Marc Fiorito/ Samsara
Samsara's new AI-embedded commercial camera system is available with forward-facing only and forward- and driver-facing cameras.

Samsara's new AI-embedded dashcam sees more, promises OTA updates

Feb. 12, 2019
IoT firm's latest truck cameras use computer vision/ object recognition to interpret road scenes, detect rolling stops, read speed limits and identify dangerous driving behaviors such as distraction or tailgating.

Fleets and trucking operations interested in advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, to improve safety but looking for a lower-cost, "lighter" option have a new product to consider. Samsara's latest commercial dashcam unveiled Monday and shipping this month builds in stronger AI capabilities and hardware upgrades to recognize and alert drivers of things like speed limits and pedestrians or vehicles ahead in dangerous proximity—even in real time.  

The key was to move more AI recognition and processing to the camera itself rather than having to process video in the cloud. "By leveraging AI technology, we're able to move the heavy lifting associated with analytical analysis from the cloud into the camera, which opens the door for those real-time notifications," a company spokesperson said.

"The camera can read the road," she added, "which is how you are able to get alerts of activity independent of a harsh event."

The system does not include any semi-autonomous driving functionality like ADAS systems do, such as automatic emergency braking. But the Samsara system's advanced object recognition and real-time alerts can now offer many similar warnings and watch for safety coaching opportunities as ADAS systems do, only there's no automatic/ takeover functionality. (At least not yet.)

"Our vision is to apply cutting-edge technology to deliver major benefits at a price point that is affordable and accessible to fleets of all sizes," the spokesperson told Fleet Owner. "If more fleets can take advantage of this technology, it'll make the roads safer for everyone."

The new Samsara camera/ video system offers: 

—Real-time voice coaching that can alert drivers of obstacles and danger. 

—A rugged design built to withstand extreme temperatures.

—A powerful, AI-optimized "brain" with CPU, graphics processor and memory in the Samsara hardware itself. The system auto-uploads video scenes to the cloud and stores 40 hours of driving footage for on-demand access.

—Advanced camera recognition technology that can identify pedestrians, vehicles, road signs and more as the system monitors for immediate risk situations as well as noteworthy events to report back later.

—Scalable additional functionality available from Samsara's broadening connected fleet/ asset management platform.  

The camera system's hardware has been upgraded and now offers HD 1080p video, HDR, infrared LED for low-light recording and night vision, and a better built-in speaker for louder/ clearer in-cab alerts (often especially important in loud trucks). In-cab notifications can be turned on or off, depending on customer need/ preference, and this latest camera also adds a 1300mAH battery for backup power.

Samsara has told Fleet Owner that it views machine learning and artificial intelligence as an important part of the value proposition it can offer fleets and trucking operations. Combined with more powerful hardware and processing built in, the new video system "gives customers of all sizes the tools to enhance fleet safety and reduce accident-related costs," the company stated in a release.

Fleets using its technology platform, which includes tools for driver safety, fleet management and compliance, have seen "marked improvements in both severity and volume of accidents, reducing overall costs by as much as half." That's a bold claim the company points to, for example, in the results one beverage and ice cream distributor in the Northeast saw using Samsara's video systems and platform. The fleet logged a 40-50% reduction in accidents and 60% reduction in overall related costs.

Samsara explained that its software "distills countless hours of video footage into the most critical events, preventing drivers or fleet managers from being burdened by data overload," as other video systems do, but the Samsara system is incorporating more real-time processing and alerts.

"With real-time processing, Samsara can proactively alert drivers in the cab and provide fleet managers with instant, actionable information to better coach their drivers," the company said. And again, Samsara is openly touting an affordable price point for the system.

"We've applied cutting-edge AI developments to the challenge of improving fleet safety while still keeping the tech accessible," contended Saleh Elhattab, safety product group manager at Samsara, regarding the new video system.

The IoT and fleet systems maker also noted it's got coming enhancements planned for the system. "The new cameras are part of Samsara's broader investments in artificial intelligence," the company stated, adding that it plans "to develop additional AI-driven features [that] will be released to customers as over-the-air software upgrades at no additional cost." 

There's reason to expect those development efforts could bear some fruit: Samsara also noted it intends to double its engineering teams in San Francisco, Atlanta and London in the coming year.

Watch more on Samsara's new commercial video system in the video below: 

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He wrote about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined FleetOwner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he was a keeper of knowledge at FleetOwner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all-around trucking—and still turned a wrench or two. Or three. 

Aaron previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

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