A small sensor stuck to the windscreen could spell the end of liability disputes if a rented car is damaged while on loan. Matthew Stock reports.
Renting a car is often fraught with worry. If the car is damaged in any way, you could be in line for a hefty bill - even if the car was parked at the time. But the days of liability disputes could soon be at an end, thanks to this small device Called DropTag Drive, it's stuck on to the inside windscreen and monitors all vehicle accelerations and impacts during the hire period. It's 'always on' - sensing what's happening to the vehicle and sending the data to the driver and the hire company via a smartphone app. Product manager Tom Lawrie-Fussey, from developers Cambridge Consultants, says DropTag Drive could end the anxiety that surrounds renting a car. SOUNDBITE (English) TOM LAWRIE-FUSSEY, DROPTAG PRODUCT MANAGER, SAYING: "We've probably all had the situation where we're returning the hire car; you have that uncertainty of are they going to spot something that you haven't seen on the body, is there a big queue, it's just the unknown of what's going to happen at this stage of my holiday or whatever position you're in. So what DropTag Drive is doing is basically removing all of that. So you have an app; at all times while you're using that car you can interrogate via the app the condition of the car." The windscreen acts as a natural amplifier to what's happening on the car, meaning the device can detect very low instances of damage, such as scratching. Lawrie-Fussey says they can sense impacts at speeds of just 1 to 2 miles-per-hour. SOUNDBITE (English) TOM LAWRIE-FUSSEY, DROPTAG PRODUCT MANAGER, SAYING: "Often those sorts of impacts don't actually cause any damage to the car, but that's the level at which we're able to sense... Because of the way we're mounting the device on to the windscreen, because the device itself is so light, so small, we're able to have really a much better view of what's going on with the car. We can go to a much higher level of resolution, of sensitivity, to see things that - as far as we're aware - nothing else can really get close to." The technology has been successfully tested on a variety of vehicle models and is now being offered to car rental companies. The makers say DropTag Drive could help end many liability disputes, and ensure neither rental company nor driver are taken for a ride.