VESOS awarded DfT grant funding

VESOS awarded DfT grant funding

New eCall project looks to benefit emergency services’ and road operators’ response to help save lives and identify vulnerable drivers

A group of connected vehicle experts are undertaking a new project to give emergency services and road operators essential data about road crashes in real time.

Responding to collisions, stranded vehicles and potentially vulnerable drivers is a priority for the UK’s emergency services. Faster response and detailed information regarding the vehicle are the focus of the project awarded to start-up company VESOS Solutions. It has received a grant from the 2022 Transport Research and Innovation Grants (TRIG) programme, which is delivered by Connected Places Catapult on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).

Until now, eCall, which has been mandated on all newly approved cars and lights vans since 2018, has focussed on the voice channel which is initiated when the airbag triggers or the SOS button is pressed.  VESOS’s TeCall project will further analyse data sent by eCall in real time and create a ‘proof of concept’ demonstrator. In the event of a collision with an airbag activation, it can almost instantly provide emergency services and highway operators with vital enhanced information detailing a vehicle’s exact location, the vehicle make and model and propulsion type, and other data that enables them to respond more effectively and better prepared.

The TeCall project will ensure only genuine and validated eCall data is presented to emergency services and road operators with false alarms filtered out and data then presented automatically into emergency Command and Control systems.

The project aims to demonstrate benefits across all road types to Fire, Police and Paramedics, in addition to benefits to road operators shown in an earlier project awarded to VESOS to study use of eCall for generating faster responses to incidents.

On rural roads, where statistically 60% of annual road deaths occur, the automatic sharing of the exact location will get help to more people during the “platinum 15 minutes” for trauma interventions. Before heading to a collision, firefighters, paramedics and doctors will be better prepared, knowing what vehicle they will find - for example an electric vehicle - and where exactly they need to go.

Over one in four cars and vans on UK roads now have eCall. There are now more than 10,000 UK alerts every month and around one automated activation every hour.

The project is being supported Warwickshire and Surrey Fire and Rescue Services, with other county FRS targeted to join the project. In addition VESOS has secured the support of Agilysis who will assist in analysing historical post-crash data. VESOS hope to identify whether there are vulnerable people in the vehicle, how many occupants are on board, and whether they are in hazardous locations such as on motorway running lanes or slip roads.

“eCall has been mandatory for five years, but up until now its true life-saving value has not been realised,” commented VESOS co-owner and former Police Inspector Andy Rooke, who has worked on eCall for 20 years. “So far, emergency services have largely used the voice aspect of eCall, but that – while still beneficial - relies on people in the vehicle being conscious, able to speak and hear. We can achieve far greater benefit if we use the data aspect too.”

The first VESOS project undertaken for National Highways in 2019 showed how eCall could detect incidents and stopped vehicles faster by using data direct from the vehicle. “This was the trigger to set up VESOS as an eCall solutions company” says co-owner and telematics specialist Danny Woolard. “This new TRIG22 award will enable us to take TeCall to Proof of Concept and develop new use cases, particularly for the emergency services, and help identify vulnerable drivers. The time savings from eCall have been shown in studies across Europe to save lives by getting the right response to the scene quickly.”

This project will run for six months and will enable VESOS to develop its intellectual property to a demonstrable platform. VESOS is co-owned by Andy Rooke and Danny Woolard along with connected vehicle expert Andy Graham and traffic operations design and development professional Alan Gentle.

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