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Feds waive regulations for Samsara’s AI Dash Cam

Exemption will allow IoT company to mount device in optimal position for safety

Drivers allowed to locate camera for maximum safety. Photo: Samsara

Samsara is getting a five-year waiver from federal regulations that it claims will allow its dashcam to provide optimal safety levels for drivers.

The industrial Internet of Things (IoT) company’s waiver is the second such exemption issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) within the last month. On Oct. 8 the FMCSA granted a five-year waiver to artificial intelligence (AI) startup Nauto for its windshield-mounted collision-avoidance sensor.

In Samsara’s case, FMCSA found that allowing its AI Dash Cam to be placed lower on the windshield than is permitted by current regulations “would not have an adverse impact on safety” and “would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety provided by the regulation.”

The agency emphasized that granting Samsara’s waiver was consistent with previous FMCSA actions for similar devices. “FMCSA is not aware of any evidence showing that the installation of other vehicle safety technologies mounted on the interior of the windshield has resulted in any degradation in safety.”

The Samsara Dash Cam analyzes the road and driver behavior in real time and alerts drivers to collisions, near misses, distracted driving events and high-risk driving behavior. The device “is an integral part” of the company’s vehicle fleet safety platform, according to its waiver application, which noted that the five-year exemption will affect approximately 407,000 drivers and 93,000 commercial vehicles.

Installing dashcams in truck cabs has been somewhat controversial within the industry, with some drivers considering them a violation of privacy. Eleanor Horowitz, Samsara’s safety product marketing manager, told FreightWaves earlier this year that drivers can be skeptical about having cameras in the cab because they fear being spied on.

However, “there are clear, tangible benefits to installing dashcams,” Horowitz said. “It is really about how fleet safety managers roll out these dashcams after alleviating driver concerns. This can be done by being really transparent about what the dashcams are for and how they are focused on safety.”

Horowitz outlined in a blogpost nine tips for fleet managers on how to get driver buy-in. “Dispel misunderstandings by explaining how safety events are detected and how footage can be accessed, and be clear about who can access the footage,” she noted. “It can help to provide printed collateral and take-home information so drivers know there’s nothing to hide about the technology.”

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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.