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Feds give AI startup Nauto exemption for collision sensor device

Flexibility provided for device’s placement location on truck’s windshield

Interior and exterior sensors alert drivers to crash risks. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

AI startup Nauto can give truck drivers more flexibility in how they mount the company’s collision avoidance device within their truck cab thanks to an exemption granted by federal regulators.

The five-year waiver, which expires in October 2025, will allow the company’s multisensor to be mounted lower in the windshield than is currently permitted for commercial trucks.

Nauto claims to sell the only real-time Al-powered “Driver Behavior Learning Platform” that can help predict and prevent high-risk events on the road.

“By analyzing billions of data points from over 650 million AI-analyzed video miles, Nauto’s machine learning algorithms continuously improve and help to impact driver behavior before events happen, not after,” according to the company. It states that its technology has helped commercial fleets avoid more than 25,000 collisions, saving carriers nearly $180 million.

However, the Palo Alto, California-based company stated in its exemption request in March that its technology cannot function properly “unless the device is mounted on a windshield at a location that allows the multiple sensors to have sufficient viewing angles to both the driver and exterior environment surrounding the vehicle.”

To ensure visibility of sensors to the roadway, the sensor placement must be within the area swept by the windshield wipers — and such placement in some trucks is within an area currently prohibited by federal regulations.

“The Agency believes that granting the exemption to allow placement of the multi-sensor device lower than currently permitted by Agency regulations will likely provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption,” FMCSA stated. “In addition, the Agency believes that the use of the multi-sensor device by fleets is likely to improve the overall level of safety to the motoring public.”

Nauto’s multisensor device is equipped with interior and exterior image sensors that continuously analyze driving activity and risks inside and ahead of the vehicle. Interior image sensors identify and analyze driver actions and objects like mobile phones to detect distracted, drowsy and risky driving, for example, while the exterior image sensors detect threats such as vehicles ahead.

Nauto Chief Product Officer Shweta Shrivastava revealed last year that when designing the device’s alert feature, the company looked at studies on real-time alerts to create a three-level alert system.

“We have the multilayer alerting system so that the drivers don’t feel like their first strike is something that’s punishable,” she said. “In-vehicle alerts allow the driver to contemplate, critique and correct their own driving in real time. So, we’re always assessing and balancing safety design to maximize impact while keeping the driver experience in mind.”

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.