Netradyne, a startup that uses cameras and edge computing to improve commercial driver safety, has scored $150 million in Series C funding. The fresh cash will help the company double down on its current product, Driveri, according to Avneesh Agrawal, CEO and co-founder.Agrawal told TechCrunch the company is very confident in its product, which rewards good driver behavior while sending real-time notifications to drivers for bad behavior, and will now focus on expanding outside its current markets in North America and India and into Europe.
Earlier this year, Netradyne partnered with Amazon to install its hardware and software in its delivery vehicles. The tech giant has faced accusations that it puts speed and efficiency over driver safety, all the while avoiding liability for accidents by employing third-party firms.
Other companies may not have that same morally dubious luxury, which makes Netradyne’s service all the more relevant for fleets. Commercial auto insurance rates are expected to climb 14.2% in 2021, in large part due to distracted drivers using smartphones, which has increased the number of accidents resulting in death, according to a report by insurance company Alera Group. The study also found the cost of repairing modern vehicles and medical costs continue rising at rates higher than inflation. Fleet managers looking to cut costs might be lured by promises of safer driving behavior.
“Nuclear verdicts, in which judgements exceed $10 million, have gone up by almost 500% according to some statistics,” Agrawal told TechCrunch. “It’s becoming the biggest expense for commercial fleets, pretty much after the drivers and fuel. There are a lot of commercial insurance carriers actually going out of business, or they’re passing on the risk to the fleets.”
If Agrawal is to be believed, Netradyne’s service is very much in demand, with subscribers and annual recurring revenue increasing three times in 2020. The CEO would not share the base, but he did say Netradyne has over 1,000 customers today.
Netradyne has an agreement with National Interstate Insurance that subsidizes the company’s product, but generally Netradyne sells to a fleet. The pitch is that the fleet should see a reduction in accidents and can then take that data to insurance companies to negotiate better claims.
Netradyne doesn’t provide an average of how its cameras and software has made driving safer, but anecdotally, Agrawal said a couple of the companies that have used the product saw claims decrease by up to 80% in a year.So how does it work?
Netradyne, which combines netra which means “vision” in Sanskrit and dyne which is a unit of power or force in Greek, has built a full stack system that is purely vision-based, according to Agrawal. That means cameras in simpler terms. The system comes in two form factors. The D-210, built for small-to-medium-sized vehicles is a dual-facing dashcam featuring both an inward and outward-facing camera, recording both the driver and the road. The D-410 has four HD cameras providing a 360-degree picture, which includes two side window views, and is better suited for heavy duty vehicles.
The cameras pick up anything from a driver being cut off and correctly slowing down to create space between the vehicles to a driver being distracted by texting. A device that connects to the cloud is on board the vehicle, and it’s on the edge of that device that real-time computations are done, which might result in the driver getting feedback and automated suggestions like “please slow down” or “distracted driving.”
“Most importantly, we track the positive driving behavior because we want to change the discussion with the drivers,” said Agrawal. “Drivers are so used to being penalized, and in most cases, it’s actually after the incident has happened or based on a customer’s complaint. This is very proactive and it’s positive.”
In the moment, rewarding behavior can look like a notification to the driver, giving them a little dopamine hit that might encourage continued good driving. Drivers are rewarded with DriverStars, an attempt to gamify commercial operations by encouraging them to rack up points. Those points may be converted to bonuses or other incentives.
“The drivers are the biggest assets for the fleet, and traditionally, if you ask the fleets, who are your worst drivers, they’ll tell you who because they are the ones who got into accidents, who customers have complained about,” said Agrawal. “If you ask them who are your safer drivers, they can’t really tell, but in our situation because we micro identify not just the drivers who haven’t gotten into accidents, but also drivers are actually being proactive with safe driving behaviour, fleets can focus on those drivers and create retention packages, give them incentives, make them into managers and leadership positions.”
Of course, there’s another upside to all this data collection on driver behavior. Agrawal says his company collects about 700 million miles per month worth of data, analyzing it to identify every potential scenario a driver can get themselves into. And it’s all being done on the edge, which is an experiment in and of itself.
“Investing in autonomous driving is definitely a possibility, but it’s not our focus right now,” said Agrawal.
This Series C round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Existing investors Point72 Ventures and M12 also participated in the round, bringing Netradyne’s total funding to over $197 million. Agrawal told TechCrunch the company aims to make $100 million in revenue by the end of the year.