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KeepTruckin, a fleet management company, said today it will use Ambarella AI processors in its dashboard camera to monitor both road conditions and truck driver awareness.

KeepTruckin will use the chips in its AI Dashcam, which can signal alerts if a driver is unaware of an upcoming hazard, or if the driver is simply distracted or drowsy.

The system uses Ambarella’s CV22 CVflow Edge AI vision system on chip (SoC). The AI Dashcam uses a single CV22 SoC to simultaneously provide AI and image processing for its dual-camera system, which integrates one camera for the front advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) with incident recording, and a second RGB-infrared camera for the driver-monitoring system (DMS) with driver recording.

“The more the number of cameras, the higher the processing needs are,” Udit Budhia, director of marketing at Ambarella, said in an interview with VentureBeat.

Ambarella designs the chips to be able to handle AI processing at the edge, but without consuming a lot of power. The CV22 will run KeepTruckin’s proprietary AI algorithms for real-time high-risk behavior detection and active warnings directly on the small form factor device, with minimal heat dissipation.

Ambarella's CVflow architecture is the basis for a lot of chip families.

Above: Ambarella’s CVflow architecture is the basis for a lot of chip families.

Image Credit: Ambarella

The camera that looks out on the road can use CV22 to produce warnings if a driver is following too close, is drifting out of a lane, may have a pending collision, is speeding, or is violating traffic laws. Using the same chip and running multiple simultaneous neural network models, the in-cabin camera can monitor for driver fatigue, distraction, and policy violations, such as contextual cell phone use or seatbelt monitoring, in combination with data from the front camera.

“One of the other advantages of having the power and efficiency and the developer support has been we can detect more with the same capabilities,” said Abhishek Gupta, group product manager at KeepTruckin, in an interview with VentureBeat. “If you have more power efficiency, you can run more AI models. So if you run more AI models, you can actually show customers a lot more behavior that needs to be corrected in real time. This brings a lot more value long term to customers.”

Jai Ranganathan, senior vice president of product at KeepTruckin, said in an interview that the fleet management innovation is enabled by Ambarella’s scalable range of CVflow AI vision SoCs, which are all supported by a common software development kit (SDK).

“We do this for people moving goods, people doing construction work, people in oil and gas — all kinds of different applications,” Ranganathan said. “We are bringing them a new generation of camera, in partnership with Ambarella.”

Above: Jai Ranganathan of KeepTruckin.

Image Credit: Ambarella

The AI Dashcam is connected to the KeepTruckin Vehicle Gateway, which uploads the pre-analyzed data, video, and still images to KeepTruckin’s cloud-based fleet management software in real time. The CV22 SoC integrates Ambarella’s image signal processor, which provides 1440p resolution HDR videos across all lighting conditions, while utilizing its on-chip H.264/H.265 encoding to reduce transmission bandwidth and storage costs.

“We have a bunch of requirements that are fairly onerous and more than most AI services do,” Ranganathan said.

Updating tech

KeepTruckin can upload additional features to the CV22 over time, via over-the-air software updates, to deliver incremental value to clients that invest in the platform. Moreover, KeepTruckin’s model training becomes increasingly more precise due to its in-house safety team assessing quality in real time, adding more risk context and providing input that makes model training and development cycles shorter.

In a truck, the conditions are tough for electronics, since the dashboards get hot and power efficiency is important.

“The more inferences we can do per watt, the much better it is for our deep learning models,” Ranganathan said. “That’s a big element of what we care about. There’s obviously a cost issue too. We’re in a pretty cutthroat industry. Our customers care about having really good value for the money. Doing all this in real time at the edge is why we favored Ambarella.”

KeepTruckin has more than 2,500 employees. It has raised $450 million from investors including Google Ventures (GV), and it supports around 400,000 trucks in its network.

Above: KeepTruckin’s camera can see the road and the driver too.

Image Credit: Ambarella

Needless to say, trucks carry a lot of force, and accidents are terrible for anyone involved. Anything the company can do to reduce accident rates and improve safety is valuable, Ranganathan said. In the long term, this could reduce insurance costs and help the overall economy.

It’s about reducing accidents on the road.

“If you’re using your cell phone, if your seatbelt is off, these are risky behaviors that need to be corrected because the continuation of all these things will lead to accidents,” Gupta said. “Alerting the driver directly at the edge, whether it’s through the mobile app experience or coaching the driver after the fact, this is really where the entire platform comes together. You want to be able to impact the driver who’s the one who’s actually making all these decisions in real time.”

Protecting drivers

The cameras have to be as reliable as any security camera. The system has to have accurate AI, and it also has to capture images with high resolution. Coming out with 1440p resolution as well as night mode IR tech puts the camera at the leading edge. The tech can help discern the highest-risk drivers from the lower-risk drivers.

Above: KeepTruckin uses Ambarella’s AI chips to detect driver alerts.

Image Credit: Ambarella

“We found that our score is five times more predictive than the leading safety score you’ll see from the industry,” Gupta said.

It can reward positive behaviors and also figure out how to retain drivers better, as driver turnover is a difficult problem. If KeepTruckin wants to upgrade to better performance, it can upgrade its software or upgrade to a different CVflow processor, said Budhia.

“The camera is really small, and the power consumption needs to be extremely low. There is no fan in this design. So that also helps,” Budhia said. “The KeepTruckin team can easily import their models trained on different networks to our device.”

Asked how KeepTruckin protects drivers’ privacy, Ranganathan said, “We take data and driver privacy very seriously. Our AI Dashcam provides both front and dual camera options, as well as privacy covers. We encourage drivers to check with their fleet managers for more detailed information on how their videos may be used or shared by their fleet.”

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