GB2498793A - Apparatus for monitoring driver behaviour - Google Patents

Apparatus for monitoring driver behaviour Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2498793A
GB2498793A GB201201509A GB201201509A GB2498793A GB 2498793 A GB2498793 A GB 2498793A GB 201201509 A GB201201509 A GB 201201509A GB 201201509 A GB201201509 A GB 201201509A GB 2498793 A GB2498793 A GB 2498793A
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apparatus
data
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GB201201509A
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GB2498793B (en
GB201201509D0 (en
Inventor
Steven J Mckay
Macgregor A Fraser
J Milam Walters
Lucas A Librano
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EUI Ltd
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Eui Ltd
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07CTIME OR ATTENDANCE REGISTERS; REGISTERING OR INDICATING THE WORKING OF MACHINES; GENERATING RANDOM NUMBERS; VOTING OR LOTTERY APPARATUS; ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS OR APPARATUS FOR CHECKING NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • G07C5/00Registering or indicating the working of vehicles
    • G07C5/008Registering or indicating the working of vehicles communicating information to a remotely located station

Abstract

An apparatus (10) for monitoring driver behaviour includes a plurality of sensing units including an accelerometer (14), a gyroscope (16) and a magnetometer (18) which provide data signals to a microcontroller (12), which processes the data signals received. The microcontroller is in turn connected to a wireless transmitter (22), by means of which data can be transmitted from the apparatus to a remote location. The microcontroller may be configured to process the data signals received from the sensing units to identify driving events, with data relating to the driving events being transmitted to the remote location. Alternatively, the apparatus may transmit raw data received from the sensing units to the remote location for processing. A positioning system receiver (20), such as a GPS receiver, may also be provided. The apparatus may be connected to an electrical outlet of the vehicle and may be able to detect disconnection from the outlet using switches associated with retaining clips within the connector. Location and time data may be recorded when disconnection is sensed for comparison with location and time data on reconnection. The information collected may be of use to insurance companies and is simple to install and calibrate.

Description

APPARATUS FOR MONITORING DRIVER BEHAVIOUR

Technical Field

The present application relates to an apparatus for monitorillg driver behaviour.

Background to the Invention

As thc amount of traffic on roads incrcases, therc is incrcasing intercst in monitoring and improving driver behaviour, to try and reduce the number of road accidents, improve fuel efficiency and reduce insurance premiums. The insurance industry in particular has been at the forefront of efforts to introduce in-vehicle driver behaviour monitoring technology, to identify patterns of driyer behayiour that giye rise to increased risk, to permit insurance ratings to be tailored according to observed driving behaviours of individual drivers or catcgorics of driver, and to assist in dctcction of insurance fraud.

Existing in-vehicle driver bchaviour monitoring devices typically conncct either directly to the vchiclc's CAN (control arca nctwork) bus or to thc vehicic's on-board diagnostics (OBD) port. In the former case data captured by the vehicle is transmitted, typically by way of a transmitter which communicates with a wireless network such as a cellular mobflc telephone nctwork, to a data ccntrc, for analysis by thc coflector of the data, which may be, for example, an insurance company. In the latter case the device may collect data from the vehicle via the OBD port, or may use the OBD port as a power supply only, with driver behaviour data being captured by sensors on board the device.

Existing tcchnologies suffer from disadvantages, howcvcr Systems which connect directly to the vehicle's CAN bus cannot easily be removed, for example for maintenance purposes, or transferred from vehicle to yehicle, whilst those which connect to the vehicle's OBD port may be difficult to install in a vehicle. Additionally, where such devices include on-board sensors, calibration of those sensors can be difficult, since the position and orientation of the OBD port differs between vehicles.

Summary of Invention

The present application relates to an apparatus for monitoring driver behaviour. The apparatus includes a plurality of sensing units including an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer which provide data signals to a microcontroller, which processes the data signals received. The microcontroller is in turn connected to a wireless transmitter, by means of which data can be transmitted from the apparatus to a remote location. The microcontroller may be configured to process the data signals received from the sensing units to identify driving events, with data relating to the driving events being transmitted to the remote location, or the apparatus may transmit raw data received from the sensing units to the remote location.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided apparatus for monitoring driver behaviour, the apparatus comprising a plurality of sensing units including: an accelerometer; a gyroscope; and a magnetometer, the apparatus further comprising a processor and a wireless transmitter, wherein the processor is configured to receive signals from the sensing units and to transmit data obtained or derived from the signals received from one or more of the sensing units to a remote location via the wireless transmitter.

The combination of sensing units in the apparatus provides detailed data on the motion of a vehicle in which the apparatus is installed, which data can be analysed, either by the processor itself or at the remote location, to identify and characterise driving events.

The processor may be configured to process signals received from the sensing units to identify driving events.

The plurality of sensing units may ifirther include a positioning system receiver.

Axes of the sensing units may be aligned with each other. Through calibration calculations the axes of the sensing units may be aligned with axes of a vehicle in which the apparatus is installed.

The apparatus may further comprise a connector for connecting the apparatus to an electrical outlet of a vehicle.

The connector may be integral with a housing of the apparatus.

Alternatively, the connector may be connected to the housing by means of an electrical wire.

The apparatus niay further comprise means for detecting disconnection of the apparatus from the electrical outlet, the means for detecting disconnection being configured to transmit a signal indicating disconnection of the apparatus from the outlet to the processor.

For example, the means for detecting disconnection may comprise retaining clips for retaining the connector in the outlet, the retaining clips being operatively connected to a detector such that on removal of the connector from the outlet the retaining clips move, which movement of the retaining clips is detected by the detector.

The retaining clips may be resiliently biased outwardly, such that when the connector is received in the electrical outlet the retaining clips arc forced inwards, and removal of the connector from the outlet causes outward movement of the retaining clips.

The detector may comprise a switch. A combination of the closure (or opening) of the switch and the presence of power to the electrical outlet may serve as a positive indicator that the apparatus is properly installed in the vehicle. A subsequent change in the state of the switch may indicate that thc apparatus has been rcmoved from the electrical outlet.

The processor may be configured to record data relating to location and time on receipt of the signal indicating disconnection of thc apparatus, and to comparc the recordcd data to location and time data receivcd on reconnection of the apparatus to an &cctrical outlet.

The apparatus may further comprise a back-up power unit including a rechargeable battery and a charging circuit which is configured to recharge the rechargeable battery when the apparatus is connected to an electrical outlet.

Brief Descri ption of the Drawings Embodiments of the invention will now be described, strictly by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which: Figure 1 is a schematic block diagram showing functional units used in an apparatus for monitoring driver behaviour; Figure 2 is a schematic representation of an apparatus for monitoring driver behaviour; Figure 3 is a diagram illustrating some prillciples employed in the calibration of the apparatus of Figures 1 and 2; Figure 4 is a flow diagram describillg a process for calibrating the apparatus of Figures 1 and 2; and Figure 5 is a flow diagram describing a process for characterisillg a driving event as a turn event or a lane change event according to data received from sensing units of the apparatus of Figures 1 and 2.

Description of the Embodiments

Referring first to the flinctional block diagram of Figure 1, a device for installation in a vehicle for the purpose of monitoring drive behaviour is shown generally at 10. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the elements shown in the schematic block diagram of Figure 1 do not necessarily represent specific physical components of the device 10, but rather ifinetional units of the device 10.

In this example the device 10 includes a processor 12 in the form of a microcontroller which receives input signals from a number of different sensing units including an accelerometer 14, a gyroscope 16 and a magnetometer 18. The microcontroller 12 may also be connected to a further sensing unit in the form of a positioning system receiver 20, such as a GPS receiver, which provides location and timing data to the microcontroller 12. A memory 19 is also provided, for storing data collected by the microcontroller 12.

An output of the microcontroller 12 is connected to a wireless transmitter such as a cellular radio modem 22 which is connected to an antenna 24, to permit transmission of data from the microcontroller 12 to a remote data centre or the like. The antenna 24 may also be connected to the positioning system receiver 20, or else the positioning system receiver 20 may have its own dedicated antenna.

The device 10 includes a connector 26 for connecting the device 10 to an electrical outlet of a vehicle, for example a 12 volt cigarette lighter socket of the vehicle, to power the device. The connector 26 is provided with a detector 28 for detecting removal of the connector 26 from the electrical outlet, and an output of the detector 28 is connected to an input of the microcontroller 12 such that on removal of the connector 26 from the electrical outlet a signal is transmitted to the microcontroller 12 to indicate that the connector 26 has been removed from the electrical outlet, as will be described in more detail below.

The device 10 also includes a back-up power unit 30 including a rechargeable baftery 32, which is able to power the device for a limited amount of time when the connector 26 is removed from the vehicle's electrical outlet. The battery 32 is rechargeable via a charging circuit 34 which draws current from the electrical outlet when the connector 26 is connected to the electrical outlet to recharge the battery 32, as will be familiar to those skilled in the art.

As can be seen from Figure 2, the device 10 is a standalone unit having a housing 40 in which all of the individual components are housed. In the exemplary embodiment illustrated in Figure 2 the connector 26 is integral with and extends from the housing 40 such that the device 10 can simply be plugged into the vehicle's electrical outlet.

Alternatively, one or more elements of the device 10 may be housed in a separate enclosure that is tethered to the connector 26 by an electrical wire. The device 10 may include an auxiliary socket 42 connected in parallel with the connector 26 to permit other devices such as satellite navigation units, media players and the like to receive electrical power from the vehicle's electrical outlet. Additionally or alternatively, the device 10 may include an auxiliary universal serial bus (IJSB) connector, which can be used to power compatible devices such as media players and the like.

The sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 are located within the housing 40 (or in a separate enclosure as described above) in a known position and orientation with respect to each other to facilitate calibration of the device 10, as will be explained in more detail below.

For simplicity in calculations, the axes of the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 arc aligned with each other (although the "signs" of the axes, i.e. whether the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 produce positive or negative readings as outputs, need not necessarily be aligned). This facilitates interpretation of readings provided by the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 once the sensing units 14, 16, 18,20 have been calibrated.

Each of the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 of the device 10 provides data signals to the microcontroller 12 that may be processed by the microcontroller 12 to identity particular driving events such as acceleration, deceleration, stops, turns and lane changes, as well as other data such as distance travelled, duration of travel and time (i.e. time of day) of travel. These driving events and other data arc logged by the microcontroller 12 and stored temporarily in the memory 19, from where they are transmitted periodically to a remote location such as a data centre via the wireless transmitter 22 for analysis. In an alternative embodiment the microcontroller 12 rnay simply log the data signals received from the sensors (and store them temporarily in the memory 19 if necessary) and transmit the raw data to the remote location for analysis, such that particular driving events are identified not by the microcontroller 12 but instead are identified at the remote location based on the raw data received from the device 10.

With the device 10 installed in a vehicle and powered up the accelerometer 14 outputs data signals representative of the vehicle's longitudinal, lateral and vertical acceleration to the microcontroller 12, which can be used, alone or in conjunction with data signals received by the microcontroller 12 from other sensing units 16, 18, 20, to identi' driving events such as acceleration!deceleration, hill climb/descent, and turn events.

The gyroscope 16 provides roll, pitch and yaw signals to the microcontroller 12. The roll signal represents rotation about a longitudinal axis of the vehicle, whilst the pitch represents rotation about a lateral axis transverse to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle in the same plane as the longitudinal axis, and the yaw signal represents rotation about a vertical axis of the vehicle (that is to say an axis that is transverse to the longitudinal axis in a plane that is perpendicular to the plane of the longitudinal axis). These signals can be used by the microcontroller 12, in conjunction with the signals input by the accelerometer 14 and/or the other sensing units 18, 20, to identify driving events such as turn and lane change events and hard acceleration and braking events, as will be described below.

The magnetometer 18 acts, in effect, as an electronic compass, providing a signal representing the heading of the magnetometer with respect to a three-dimensional reference heading. This signal can be used in conjunction with signals received from other sensing units 14, 16, 20 to identify or confirm driving events such as turns or navigation over hills.

Additionally, the magnetometer 18 can be used to determine a magnetic signature of the vehicle in which the device 10 is installed, which can be used to determine if the device has been removed from a vehicle and installed in another vehicle. A vehicle made from or including ferrous materials imparts a measurable disturbance in the earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field strength recorded by the magnetometer 18 as it rotates through 360 degrees in a horizontal plane in the absence of a distorting body such as a vehicle is substantially uniform, i.e. the magnetic field strength is approximately the same for all angles of rotation. However, when the magnetometer 18 is installed in a vehicle the recorded magnetic field strength recorded as the magnetometer rotates through the 360 degrees is non-uniform, and a magnetometer plot of magnetic field strength against angle of rotation would produce an elliptical plot with a centre offset from zero when the magnetometer 28 is positioned within a vehicle, as opposed to a substantially circular plot in thc absence of a vehicle. The magnitude and direction of this shift is effectively a signature of the vehicle, and as different vehicles have different compositions and, the device will be installed in different positions in different vehicles, depending upon the location of the electrical outlet, this magnetic signature can be used to identify when the device 10 has been removed from one vehicle and installed in a different vehicle, as different vehicles have discernable magnetic signatures.

The signature of the vehicle may be verified by observing the output of the accelerometer 14. When the vehicle is at rest the accelerometer 14 generates a reading on each of its three axes due to the action of gravity on the device 10. If these readings change by a given amount, e.g. 5 per cent, a shift in the position of the device 10 may be inferred.

The positioning system receiver 20 receives highly accurate coordinate data and time signals from an external satellite source, and thus the signal from the positioning system receiver 20 can be used by the microcontroller 12 to assist in verifying data from the other sensing devices 14, 16, 18 and to assist in charaeterising the severity of driving events such as turns, acceleration and deceleration events. The data from the positioning system receiver 20 can also be used by the microcontroller 12 to determine parameters such as total distance travelled, total travel duration, average speed and time (i.e. time of day) of travel.

It will be appreciated that in order correctly to characterise motion of a vehicle in which the device 10 is installed it is first necessary to understand the relationship between the vehicle reference system and a reference system used by the device 10, particularly as the device 10 may be installed in different positions and orientations in different vehicles.

This is achieved by calibrating the device 10 with reference to gravity initially, and refining the initial gravity calibration over time based on motion of the vehicle, as will now be explained with reference to Figures 3 and 4.

As is illustrated in Figure 3, a gravity vector g (see Figure 3) which is vertically downward with respect to the accelerometer 14 is always present irrespective of the orientation of the accelerometer 14. The accelerometer 14 has its own Cartesian axes X, Y and Z, which are mutually orthogonal. The axes of the accelerometer 14 are each angularly offset from the gravity vector g. As can be seen in Figure 3, the X axis of the accelerometer 14 is offset by an angle a from the gravity vector g, whilst the Y axis of the accelerometer 14 is offset from the gravity vector g by an angle fi, and the Z axis of the accelerometer is offset from the gravity vector g by an angle y.

When the device 10 is initially activated it is assumed that it is installed in a vehicle that is at rest on a level surface. At this time the accelerometer 14 takes an initial reading, from which the initial angles CL, fi and i between the Cartesian axes of the accelerometer 14 and the gravity vector g are calculated.

The vehicle is assumed to move in a horizontal plane of motion that is perpendicular to the action of gravity, and thus offset by 90 degrees from the gravity vector g. This plane of motion is calculated, and the angle between each of the Cartesian axes of the accelerometer 14 and the plane of motion are calculated. Geometrical calculations used to charactcrisc the magnitude and direction of accelerometer component vectors Xi,, Y1, and Z projected in the plane of motion of the vehicle.

Though the first several trips of the vehicle, the resultant vectors in the plane of motion are calculated for magnitude and direction. The highest frequency of acceleration motions will occur along the forward-to-backward axis of the vehicle, representing linear acceleration and deceleration. Statistics are compiled on the angles associated with acceleration readings in the plane of motion and those with highest frequencies are selected as the angles between the sensor axes and the vehicle forward to backward axis, as illusnted in the flow chart of Figure 4. As additional trip data is compiled the gravity angles and estimated forward to backwards angles are continually averaged to approach the true value of tilt between the device 10 and the vehicle. Over time, this provides for compensation for errors due to vehicle position on surfaces that arc not flat, as the assumption is made that, over a period of time, the vehicle is on average in an orientation perpendicular to gravity.

When the device 10 is installed in a vehicle and correctly calibrated, the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 provide data to the microcontroller 12 in the form of electrical signals as the vehicle travels (and indeed when the vehicle is stationary). The microcontroller 12 is configured, by means of an appropriate program, for example, to process the data provided by the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 to identify particular driving events and other information, and to transmit, via the radio transmitter 22, the identified driving events and information to a remote location such as a data centre for analysis.

The microcontroller 12 may be configured to identify certain driving events or information 011 the basis of data received from only one of the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20. For example, the microcontroller 12 may be configured to determine the total distance travelled in a particular journey, the total travel duration and the time of day of travel solely based on data received from the positioning system receiver 20. Similarly, data from the accelerometer 14 alone may be used to identify simple driving events. For example, longitudinal accelerations may be identified as acceleration and deceleration events, whilst lateral accelerations may be identified as indicating a motion to the right or left of the vehicle. Accelerations normal to avity may be identified as indicating a hill climb or descent, or if sufficiently short in duration, a bump in the road.

However, to identify more complex driving events and other information, the microcontroller 12 typically uses data provided by two or more of the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20.

For example, data from the gyroscope 16 may be used in conjunction with data from the accelerometer 14 to indicate the difference between a turn event, which typically would result in a high yaw measurement by the gyroscope 16, and a lane change event, which would typically not give rise to a yaw measurement. Thus, the combination of a lateral acceleration reading of above 0.lg, for example, from the accelerometer 14 and a high yaw reading, e.g. greater than 20 degrees/second, from the gyroscope 16 would be interpreted and logged by the microcontroller 12 as a turn event, whereas the combination of a lateral acceleration reading from the accelerometer 14 with no yaw reading (or a low yaw reading, e.g. less than 20 degrees/second) from the gyroscope 16 would be interpreted and logged by the microcontroller 12 as a lane change event, as shown in the flow chart of FigureS.

Data from the magnetometer 18 can be used to confirm the characterisation of a driving event. For example, the eharacterisation of a manoeuvre as a turn based on data signals from thc accelerometer 14 and the gyroscope 16 can be confirmed by data from thc magnetometer 18, as a significant change in heading is usually associated with a turn.

Thus, if a combination of lateral acceleration (e.g. a value of 0.lg as measured by the accelerometer 14), high yaw (e.g. a value of 10 degrees/second as measured by the gyroscope 16) and a change in heading (as measured by the magnetometer 18) in the same direction as the yaw occur simultaneously, or within a predetermined time window, the microcontroller 12 can confirm that a turn event has taken place and log the turn event appropriately.

In a similar way, pitch readings from the gyroscope 16 can be used in combination with readings from the accelerometer 14 to identify hard acceleration and braking events. For example, measurements from the accelerometer 14 indicating high longitudinal acceleration (e.g. greater than 0.3g) may be indicative of a hard braking event. This can be confirmed by evaluating pitch readings received from the gyroscope 16 at the same time as the accelerometer readings. A high positive pitch reading (e.g. 15 degrees/second) followed by a negative pitch reading (e.g. -10 degrees/second) would be consistent with a first forward rotation of the vehicle about its lateral axis as the hard braking manoeuvre is commenced followed by a second backward rotation of the vehicle about its lateral axis when the braking manoeuvre is completed. Thus, if the microcontroller 12 receives a signal indicative of a high longitudinal acceleration from the accelerometer 14 at the same time as a high positive pitch reading, which is followed by a negative pitch reading from the gyroscope 16, a hard braking event may be identified and logged by the microcontroller 12.

As well as using data from the accelerometer 14, gyroscope 16 and magnetometer 18 to identify driving events the microcontroller 12 may also usc additional data received from the positioning system receiver 20 to characterise or verify the severity of driving events.

For example, speed data provided by the positioning system receiver 20 can be used to identify whether driving events are occurring at high or low speeds.

It will be appreciated that the combination of data from the accelerometer 14, gyroscope 16, magnetometer 18 and positioning system receiver 20 enables detailed and highly accurate identification and characterisation of driving events and motion information by the microcontroller 12, and this data can be logged by the microcontroller 12 and transmitted to a remote location such as a data centre using the wireless transmitter 22, typically at the end ofajourney.

Although the description above discusses the use by the microcontroller 12 of data from the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 to identi' and characterise driving events, it will be appreciated that the microcontroller 12 may be used simply to log the data signals received from the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 and to transmit this "raw" data to the remote location for analysis. In any event, the data derived from the sensing units 14, 16, 18, 20 and transmitted by the microcontroller 12 via the wireless transmitter 22, either as raw data or as identified driving events over the course of a single journey or a number of journeys, may be used for a number of purposes.

For example, insurance providers may use the data received from the device 10 to identi' driving behaviours which give rise to increased risk of accidents, such as frequent hard braking and acceleration events. This data may be used to adjust insurance ratings for drivers regularly observed to use such behaviours.

Similarly, the time of day at which a vehicle is typically used and the type or road on which the vehicle is used may be inferred from the data received from the device 10, and this information may be used to adjust insurance ratings for the driver of the vehicle, e.g. to reduce premiums if the data suggests that the vehicle is mainly used at times when the risk of accident is reduced.

Additionally, the data received from the device can be used to detect fraud. For example, the overnight location of the vehicle may be monitored based on data received from the device 10, and if it is found that the overnight location of the vehicle does not correspond to the declared overnight location of the vehicle the insurancc provider may be notified of possible fraud. As an additional measure, data derived from the accelerometer 14 andlor relating to the average angle of the vehicle at night can be used to determine if the vehicle is parked away from its declared overnight parking location.

As weH as providing data on driving events for a particular journey, over time the date logged by the device 10 may be used to generate a unique driver signature that may be used to idcntifr individual drivers. It will be appreciated that different drivers have different driving styles, which will be expressed as different combinations of driving events over the course ofajourney. Over time, the data gathered by the device 10 can be analysed, either by the microcontroller 12 or at a remote location and different drivers identified by patterns of driving events that occur over the course of a number of journeys.

This information can be used, for example, to determine the number of drivers of a particular vehicle. Additionally, profiling of drivers in this way could be used to identify factors which influence risk when driving, and thus to derive new rating factors for setting insurance premiums.

It will be appreciated that some drivers may not wish to be monitored, and so may choose to remove the device 10 from a vehicle's electrical outlet before driving the vehicle. It is important that the collector of data from the device is notified when the device 10 is removed from the vehicle's electrical outlet, so that the period during which the device was disconnected can be accounted for.

To this end the device 10 includes a system for detecting disconnection or removal of the device 10 from the vehicle's electrical outlet.

As can be seen in Figure 2, the connector 26 of the device 10 is provided with a pair of retaining clips 44 for retaining the device 10 in the electrical outlet. These retaining clips 44 are resiliently biased outwardly by a biasing element such as a spring, towards a position in which, when the connector 26 is received in the electrical outlet, the retaining clips 44 are forced inwards, against the action of the biasing element, to engage with an inner wall of the outlet to retain the connector 26 in position.

The retaining clips 44 are operatively connected, either directly or indirectly (e.g. by means of a mechanical linkage), to the detector 28, which may be, for example, a push to make or push to break switch, which is in turn connected to an input of the microcontroller 12. On removal of the connector 26 from the electrical outlet, the retaining clips 44 move outwardly under the action of the biasing element. This action is detected by the detector 28 (e.g., where the detector 28 is a switch the switch may open or close), which transmits a signal to the microcontroller 12. The microcontroller 12 logs this signal as a device removal event, and transmits an appropriate data signal to the remote location, either immediately or the next time that the device 10 is reconnected to the electrical outlet.

In an alternative embodiment the connector 26 of the device 10 may be provided with a locking mechanism which can be engaged to secure the connector 26 in place in the electrical outlet. In this case a detector such as a switch may be associated with the locking mechanism, such that when the locking mechanism is disengaged the detector detects this and transmits a signal to the microcontroller 12, which logs the signal as a device removal event and transmits an appropriate data signal to the remote location.

In this way, removal of the device 10 can be recorded and accounted for in subsequent analysis of the data received from the device 10, and acted on if necessary. For example, on detection of a device removal event, the microcontroller 12 may log the location of the device (and therefore the vehicle) and the time, using data received from the positioning system receiver, for example. If position data received when the device 10 has been reconnected to the electrical outlet shows that the vehicle is at a different location than when the device 10 was disconnected, and that this location would be too far to drive in three minutes, it can be surmised that the vehicle has been used whilst the device 10 was disconnected. In some circumstances this might amount to a breach of the terms and conditions of an insurance policy, and so the insurance provider may be notified of a fraud event.

This assumes that the device 10 has been reconnected to the same vehide. Whether or not the device has been reconnected to the same vehicle can be determined by reference to the magnetic signature of the vehicle in which the device is reconnected. As is explained above, data signals received by the microcontroller 12 from the magnetometer 18 can be used to derive a magnetic signature for a particular vehicle, and if the magnetic signature identified when the device was disconnected corresponds to the magnetic signature identified on reconnection of the device 10, it can be assumed that the device 10 has been reconnected to the same vehicle.

It will be appreciated that the device 10 described above provides an accurate and reliable means of monitoring driver behaviour which is easy to install and use. The combination of data from the sensor units 14, 16, 18 and 20 enables detailed and accurate collection of data relating to driving events and behaviours, which can be used for a number of purposes.

Claims (1)

  1. <claim-text>CLAIMS1. Apparatus for monitoring driver behaviour, the apparatus comprising a plurality of sensing units including: an accelerometer; a gyroscope; and a magnetometer, the apparatus further comprising a processor and a wireless transmitter, wherein the processor is configured to receive signals from the sensing units and to transmit data obtained or derived from the signals received from one or more of the sensing units to a remote location via the wireless transmitter.</claim-text> <claim-text>2. Apparatus according to claim I wherein the processor is configured to process signals received from the sensing units to identi' driving events.</claim-text> <claim-text>3. Apparatus according to claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the plurality of sensing units further includes a positioning system receiver.</claim-text> <claim-text>4. Apparatus according to any one claims 1 to 3 wherein axes of the sensing units are aligued with each other.</claim-text> <claim-text>5. Apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims further comprising a connector for connecting the apparatus to an electrical outlet of a vehicle.</claim-text> <claim-text>6. Apparatus according to claim 5 wherein the connector is integral with a housing of the apparatus.</claim-text> <claim-text>7. Apparatus according to claim 5 wherein the connector is connected to a housing of the apparatus by means of an electrical wire.</claim-text> <claim-text>8. Apparatus according to any one of claims 5 to 7 ifirther comprising means for detecting disconnection of the apparatus from the electrical outlet, the mcans for detecting disconnection being configured to transmit a signal indicating disconnection of the apparatus from the outlet to the processor.</claim-text> <claim-text>9. Apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the means for detecting disconnection comprises retaining clips for retaining the connector in the outlet, the retaining clips being operatively connected to a detector such that on removal of the connector from the outlet the retaining clips move, which movement of the retaining clips is detected by the detector.</claim-text> <claim-text>10. Apparatus according to claim 9 wherein the retaining clips are resiliently biased outwardly, such that when the connector is received in the electrical outlet the retaining clips arc forced inwards, and removal of the connector from the outlet causes outward movement of the retaining clips.</claim-text> <claim-text>11. Apparatus according to claim 9 or claim 10 wherein the detector is a switch.</claim-text> <claim-text>12. Apparatus according to any one of claims 8 to 11 wherein the processor is configured to record data relating to location and time on receipt of the signal indicating disconnection of the apparatus, and to compare the recorded data to location and time data received on reconnection of the apparatus to an electrical outlet.</claim-text> <claim-text>13. Apparatus according to any one of claims 5 to 2 further comprising a back-up power unit including a rechargeable battery and a charging circuit which is configured to recharge the rechargeable battery when the apparatus is connected to an electrical outlet.</claim-text> <claim-text>14. Apparatus substantially as hcrcinbcforc described with reference to the accompanying drawings.</claim-text>
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