For many drivers, a vehicle’s inner workings are akin to magic. When something goes wrong with the car, we take it to the mechanic and trust them to provide an accurate, honest resolution recommendation. But what if there was an app that could provide us vehicular simpletons with ongoing monitoring and recommend a non-biased solution when a problem is identified? That’s exactly what five Thai engineers thought when they set about developing the Drivebot, a device described as a Fitbit for your car.
The Drivebot is a simple dongle device that plugs into the On Board Diagnostic (OBD-II) port found on most cars produced since 1996. The Drivebot dongle pairs with a companion smartphone app via Bluetooth to provide real-time vehicle diagnostics and detect a problem in its earliest stages.
Since most vehicle owners aren't certified mechanics, the developers have designed the app to provide basic instructions on how to resolve simple problems. For more complicated problems, the app will advise drivers to contact their mechanic or service center to address the issue. The basic idea is to proactively identify issues before they become more serious (and more expensive to repair).
IN addition to keeping an electronic eye on the health of the vehicle, Drivebot can also be programmed to monitor driving habits and driving routes and make recommendations on how to save gas or suggesting different driving routes in order to save time and money. Drivebot can also tag business trips and export the files to your email in an effort to improve business expense tracking.
The Drivebot dongle has built-in flash storage that can store roughly two months of trip data, while the smartphone app is available for iOS7 or later, or Android 4.0 or later. The app can also support multiple vehicle profiles and exports user trip data as CSV files.
Drivebot has currently raised almost US$60,000 in crowdsourced funds on Indiegogo, far surpassing its initial goal of $35,000. The minimum pledge level currently remaining for a Drivebot is $75, with the team hoping to ship an iOS version of the device in February 2015 and an Android version to follow in March, if all goes to plan.
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