JULY 2012: Pollution, in particular, vehicular pollution, is a major concern today. There are over 600 million passenger vehicles in the world accounting for thousands of tonnes of carbon emission every single day. However, most of the solutions to combat vehicle pollution, such as electric cars and bio-fuels, require either drastic changes in social infrastructure or major investment from vehicle owners. As a result, their adoption is slow.
Another way to counter pollution would be to target its source. One major reason for vehicular pollution is not just the vehicles we drive but how we drive them. Poor driving habits like aggressive driving, engine idling and over-speeding have a large impact on fuel efficiency and thus harmful gas emissions from the vehicle. This is where Logica’s EMO comes in. The device helps reduce vehicle emissions by monitoring how people drive and then providing inputs to them to improve their driving styles.
What is it?
The device is installed in the vehicle and connected to the vehicle’s onboard computer. It connects to the OBD-II port, which is available in most vehicles today, and allows access to the data from the engine control unit (ECU).
Once connected, the device monitors in real time various driving behaviour related parameters such as speed, accelerations and braking. Using the data gained, the on-board computer determines the vehicle’s carbon emissions. The device has a SIM card inside which is used to send all the computed data to Logica backend servers using GPRS, where it is analysed and a report is generated.
The report thus made is shared with the driver through numerous ways such as a Web interface, SMS alerts, smartphone apps and e-mail reports. The analysis from the report helps him understand how he is currently driving versus how he should be driving and thus improve his driving habits.
Sanjoy Ghosh, product manager at Logica, claims that by using the EMO, drivers can reduce their vehicle emissions by up to 15 per cent simply by improving the way they drive. Apart from reduced emissions, drivers also benefit from fuel savings since better driving habits lead to improved vehicle mileage.
Hardware design challenges
It took the team about three years to develop the Logica EMO. “We needed to create a safe, efficient and reliable system to measure emissions in real time. This required understanding of the technology used in latest vehicles and how to extract data from them in a safe and reliable way. In addition, the device had to undergo extensive testing and certification before it could be offered to clients. The solution today is CE certified and has also been independently audited by a leading carbon footprint company, Zerofootprint, for accuracy,” says Sanjoy.
The hardware of the device is compliant with all the latest models of vehicles having a standard OBD-II protocol port. Moreover, it has telephony for GPRS-based wireless data transmission. The total power consumption of the device is 1000 mW during average use and 60 mW while the device is sleeping.
Logica has applied for multiple patents of the solution. These include technology patents for how the solution works, calculation of the carbon emissions, and the Green Index scores and their end-to-end usage. In addition, business patents for the concept of differential fuel pricing based on emissions have been filed.
Plug-’n-play. The EMO has a variety of innovative aspects starting from the device to how the entire solution works seamlessly as a service. The device is extremely easy to use. Simply plug it into the appropriate port of the vehicle and it automatically starts working.
As all the data is wirelessly sent to backend servers, there is no need to manually download any data from the device. The reports are designed keeping in mind the needs of the vehicle drivers and also fleet owners.
“For example, we have developed a unique rating scale called the Logica EMO Green Index score. The Green Index score is an easy-to-understand, quantitative rating scale from 0 to 10 that helps drivers compare their driving with other people’s driving as well as chart their progress over time,” explains Sanjoy.
Expense control. The device has an inbuilt small computer that does most of the calculations on the device. This helps to keep telecommunication costs (data charges) low by transmitting only the final results to the servers instead of all the data collected. Also, the device is completely self-installable, thus avoiding high installation costs. The device design is also cost-saving as it avoids the use of expensive unnecessary technology and focuses on the core solution of calculating carbon footprint.
1. The Economist: Top 10 Game Changing Innovations in Climate Change
2. NASSCOM: Top 6 Innovations Toward Advancement of New Technology
3. Golden Peacock Awards: Innovative Product/Service 2011
4. Institute of Engineering and Technology (UK): Top 5 Innovations in Transportation 2011
5. MIT Technology Review TR35 India 2011
What lies ahead
The EMO is also a business platform that provides incentives to drivers to reduce their vehicle emissions. For example, Logica EMO can be used by governments to provide differential fuel pricing. Differential fuel pricing is a unique concept that helps promote eco-friendly driving by passing the incentive of reduced emissions to drivers through lower fuel prices. Data from the EMO device can be transferred to readers at a petrol pump, which can then be used to calculate the price of fuel in real time based on the carbon footprint of the vehicle.
Governments, through progressive policy making, can introduce laws to charge a lower fuel tax for vehicles with lower carbon footprint, thus providing a monetary incentive to drivers to improve their driving habits. The same concept can also be extended to other types of taxes such as toll tax and road tax and parking fees.
Sanjoy adds, “We are working on bringing in new features such as remote vehicle tracking, theft tracking and geofencing. Geofencing is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area.”
The author is a tech correspondent at EFY Bengaluru