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Israeli startup Waycare taps AI to increase traffic safety, reduce time on roads

Written by NoCamels Published on     5 mins read

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Waycare plans on expanding to several other roads and agencies throughout Israel, as well as expanding to other regions, including Southeast Asia.

Approximately 1.35 million people are killed globally in car accidents every year, with an average of 3,700 people dying on the roads every day, according to the World Health Organization. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among people aged five to 29, with young adults aged 15 to 44 accounting for more than half of all road fatalities.

Such statistics led Israeli entrepreneurs to create Waycare, a startup founded in 2016 that aims to solve one of the world’s biggest challenges—road accidents. The company built a cloud-based software platform that leverages artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to produce actionable insights, such as accident prediction, irregular traffic detection, and quick incident identification. Waycare’s technology integrates data from existing transportation networks and sources like city infrastructure, navigation apps, and weather forecasts.

The Waycare team. Photo by Yoav Picherski. Courtesy of Waycare via NoCamels.

“We couldn’t quite understand why such a big issue, in terms of sheer impact—approximately 40,000 deaths in the US every year—doesn’t have a better solution,” said Waycare CEO Noam Maital. “In fact, in the last 40 to 50 years, we’ve been trying the same type of solutions without any meaningful success. This is in confluence with the introduction of new deep learning and machine learning capabilities, as well as platforms that made it more accessible to start playing around with these types of solutions that allow us to start looking at predictive analytics.”

“We thought, ‘how can we approach traffic and incident management in a more predictive manner and use multiple data sources that were previously not used in typical or traditional means’?”

Waycare creates customizable solutions for law enforcement, traffic management centers, and freeway service patrol to improve traffic safety and management while simultaneously promoting cross-agency collaboration. Furthermore, Waycare has automated conventional traffic management infrastructure and reexamined traditional operational constructs. Its model includes cloud infrastructure, connected vehicles, AI, incident detection, and operational congestion management tools.

The tech is hardware-agnostic and does not rely on any physical devices. Rather, Waycare is an overlay system that simultaneously ingests multiple data sources in real-time. The company prides itself on providing a complete holistic solution, as opposed to focusing on a singular angle. The company collects anonymized data from traffic management centers that are connected to cameras, signals, and sensors on the road and partners with connected vehicle companies like Volvo, apps such as Waze, and others to gather relevant information.

“We then synthesize all these data sources together, along with weather data, to create a full holistic picture of what’s happening on the road in real-time,” said Noam. “We use all those insights to start building operational tools, based on enabled machine learning and deep learning for real-time traffic operations, incident management, and predictive analytics.”

Waycare’s road and traffic management system. Image courtesy of Waycare via NoCamels.

Usually, when an accident occurs, someone will either call 911, or an operator sitting opposite dozens of cameras will identify an accident and alert authorities. Waycare has automated this manual process by building an algorithm and workflow for automated incident identification.

“We take all the historical data from our myriad of sources, train our algorithms on a granule level, and tie that in with real-time data to identify anomalies as they’re occurring on the road and automatically alert the operator to start triggering a response plan for that incident. As such, we’ve been able to reduce the identification and response time by over nine minutes,” said Noam.

According to a 2018 report in the Las Vegas Review Journal, a year-long pilot program between Waycare and several Nevada traffic agencies yielded significant results. In fact, highway patrol systems began identifying accidents up to 12 minutes faster with Waycare’s technology. Additionally, during the program, 91% of drivers traveling over 65 mph reduced their speed below 65 mph in areas where Waycare’s preventative measures were deployed.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waycare used its tech to identify COVID-19 hotspots in the US, designing a zip code-level map with an accompanying questionnaire to pinpoint areas with a higher presence of related symptoms.

Waycare designed a zip code-level map with an accompanying questionnaire showing risk levels for COVID-19 in the US. Image courtesy of Waycare via NoCamels.

Most recently, Waycare partnered with Netivei Ayalon, an Israeli government company, to provide AI-powered safety insights and proactive traffic management. Ayalon Highway is a major intra-city freeway passing through Tel Aviv and its neighboring areas and is notoriously congested. Waycare was enlisted to help assist in the reduction of heavy traffic as a result of the project.

Israel is no stranger to fatal car accidents. In fact, according to the National Road Safety Authority, 2019 saw a 10% rise in fatal car accidents, with 350 people killed in 315 deadly crashes. Additionally, 88 pedestrians are killed in accidents each year, resulting in one pedestrian death every four days, on average.

Hanativ Hamahir, or the Fast Lane project, is a stretch along Ayalon Highway that aims to ensure quick and continuous travel to public transportation and busy vehicles. The Fast Lane project will soon build additional lanes on the Ayalon Highway for toll-paying cars, high occupancy vehicles (HOVs) and shuttles, and public transportation. Traffic congestion is expected to increase during construction due to limited lane access. Waycare will enable Ayalon’s Traffic Management Center and Freeway Service Patrol to detect irregular congestion, traffic incidents, and more. Waycare’s technology provides these agencies with the necessary tools to take preventative measures and plan accordingly.

Waycare’s road management platform integrated at Netivei Ayalon. Photo courtesy of Waycare via NoCamels.

As part of the project with Ayalon, Waycare has leveraged data from multiple partners, including weather intelligence platform Tomorrow.io (formerly ClimaCell), Israeli car data platform Otonomo, and Israeli navigation app Waze. By supplementing this data to the platform, Waycare has provided Ayalon’s Traffic Management Center with real-time traffic reports, as well as a holistic overview of driving patterns and behaviors. This information will be particularly useful in helping reduce traffic congestion during road construction.

During the initial testing of the project, Ayalon’s Traffic Management Center observed an 11-minute reduction in the average time spent evacuating car accidents from the highway, according to a company announcement. This figure proved promising and demonstrated how Waycare’s software can help agencies identify problems and optimize solutions.

Itamar Ben-Meir, CEO of Netevei Ayalon, said in a statement that the agency’s goal is to streamline the transfer of information from the road to its Traffic Management Center so the agency can respond as quickly as possible. Waycare, he said, “will help us quickly identify problems and optimize our response. We see the application of advanced technologies on Israeli roads as an important component in providing diverse solutions to improving road safety.”

Waycare’s partnership with Netivei Ayalon is the company’s first project in Israel. Waycare predominantly operates in North America, and its projects include highways in Nevada, Ohio, California, and Texas.

Waycare plans on expanding to several other roads and agencies throughout Israel, as well as expanding to other regions, including Southeast Asia.

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This article was originally published on NoCamels, a leading news site covering breakthrough innovation from Israel for a global audience.

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