This exclusive interview with Andy Dumbell, co-founder and MD of Control F1, talking about working with the RAC on telematics technology and commercialising IoT in transport, first appeared in the new March/April edition of the free Telematics News Bulletin magazine. Details of how to subscribe to the magazine are at the bottom of this article.
Telematics News (TN): What is your role at Control F1? Is it correct to think of Control F1 as a startup? Perhaps you could talk us through your typical day at Control F1?
I’m co-founder and MD of Control F1. I have a technical background, but have always been driven by my entrepreneurial spirit!
As a business we have passed the startup stage. However, I consider some of our key internal product development activity as being very much like a startup, due to our emphasis on research and development and the fact that we are working with extremely novel, cutting edge technologies to overcome the challenges of the future.
I spend my days leading the company – motivating my team and making sure that we are all working towards a common purpose. I invest a lot of time into strategic activity to understand where the future can take us.
Recently, Control F1 announced its involvement in the i-Motors project supported by the UK government. What is the thinking behind this concept? What technologies are being used to communicate between vehicles?
Yes this is wonderful news for us and we are extremely excited to be leading on the i-Motors project! As the UK sets out its stall in regards to automotive technology, being a British business puts us in a strong position to lead the way in connected and autonomous vehicles innovation. So when Innovate UK announced the £20m call for collaborative R&D projects, we saw this as a real opportunity to bring together a consortium of great minds with relevant experience and track record to solve some of the challenges we were already seeing in this sector.
i-Motors seeks to standardise the way in which connected and autonomous vehicles talk to one another and to other machines, and importantly how the data and derived intelligence is then made available to third party systems. We’re working with a number of different technologies to achieve this, including capitalising on the experience of traffic management experts InfoHub Ltd to combine data from different sources and offer real-time dynamic route planning. We’re also partnering with Head Communications to integrate Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) technology taken from unmanned aircraft that will allow vehicles to remain connected with sub-metre precision, even when out of internet and GPS range through a variety of communication technologies including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and satellite communications.
Central to the venture’s success is the vehicular cloud computing platform that Control F1 will be developing as part of this project. This will build upon the extensive experience we have in the world of telematics software. The platform’s focus will be on processing and managing the telemetry data, and deriving value through generating intelligence from this in near real-time.
We will be working closely with the University of Nottingham’s Geospatial Institute and Human Factors facilities in order to provide contextual intelligence, directly yet non-intrusively to drivers of connected vehicles through V2V applications. Human Factors will play a significant role in ensuring that the public can build trust in the systems, which is going to provide a major challenge in any system adoption.
Additionally the project is supported by three forward looking local authorities who would like to benefit from Smart City technical innovations and believe in the aspirations of the i-Motors project, for example to access trend analysis data to inform smarter city planning decisions, real-time traffic intelligence to provide more efficient roads.
How does i-Motors relate to other V2X and Connected Car initiatives in Europe and the US?
Our project differs from many other V2X and Connected Car initiatives because our approach is from a cross-industry perspective, working across areas such as rail and aviation as well as automotive. This breadth of experience allows us to bring a “fresh pair of eyes” in addressing the problems that the industry is currently encountering.
Can you provide some insight into the RAC Advance telematics project? What is the role of Control F1?
We were approached by the RAC back in 2014 when they were acquiring their new Telematics technology. The RAC required a skilled and experienced technology partner to help integrate its new product into the business, and the RAC team knew that we already had pedigree in this space. Our initial role was consultancy based, but this rapidly grew into other services including software development and tier3 support services.
We have since delivered key roadmap developments for the RAC, allowing it to launch new products – the new telematics insurance proposition, for example. We have also supported the RAC in building its internal technical team to manage this software. This work provided us with a major step forward in our track record.
What are your other projects in the telematics space? Are you still working with Risk Technology and Masternaut?
We have a number of on-going projects with established companies and startups, within both Telematics and the Internet of Things.
As an example, we have been working with a client that provides telematics solutions for the maritime sector. With our deep experience in cloud migration we began by re-architecting this client’s existing technology into a cloud solution. Working together with Nottingham University we also provided the necessary telematics knowhow our client needed to secure funding from Innovate UK for a ground-breaking Research and Development project. The on-going project focuses on how to store and manage big data from multiple sources in the maritime world. This will help to generate contextual intelligence that can be shared with the shipping community to identify trends in areas as far reaching as port movements and piracy. Through migrating its vessel tracking tool to the cloud, we helped our client to substantially reduce its exposure to risk and cost. The new cloud solution also allows for swifter scalability, as well as dramatically increasing the speed at which data can be accessed and processed.
Outside of the client specific, our R&D team are working on a number of patentable concepts to overcome some major challenges in the industry, and we continue to build upon our own in-house platform Track360, which is used by resellers of our track and trace solution.
What are the future plans for Control F1? Do you plan direct relationships with carmakers or their Tier 1 suppliers?
In the immediate future we will be designing and planning the technologies to underpin the i-Motors project, with a particular focus on the cloud-based platform and its wider potential uses, for example within the Internet of Things (IoT) arena.
We are very excited to have moved firmly into the R&D space and have begun developing a series of patentable techniques, some of which will provide value directly within the Telematics industry; details will be shared over the coming months.
We are considering a variety of options as part of the i-Motors exploitation plan and hope to intend to build upon our existing industry relationships. We are also looking at other routes to market, such as through telematics providers, smart city initiatives and even directly to drivers. We are very excited about the future and look forward to turning our vision into reality.
This interview originally appeared in the March/April edition of the Telematics News Bulletin monthly magazine available without charge exclusively to subscribers to TN’s free daily news email. Click HERE to subscribe.
Source: Telematics News