The future's car will be a healthy one

The future's car will be a healthy one

An innovative air quality mapping system developed by the start-up BreezoMeter, in cooperation with the German car electronics HELLA, will prevent pollution or its accumulation inside the car. The future's car: highly connected - less polluted

מאת: Yoel Tzafrir
טכנולוגיה והייטק רכב אוטונומי

The wave of innovation washing over the international car industry creates headlines primarily when it comes to hot trends, such as cyber-transportation security, autonomous communal vehicles, vehicle connectivity, and the like. But until all our vehicles become electric, autonomous, and connected, we will have to contend with the problem of air pollution produced by standard combustion engines.

The UN Environment Program reports that urban air pollution is related to the early death of about a million people annually worldwide. It is estimated that air pollution costs some 2% of the GDP of developed countries and about 5% of that of developing countries. According to the data of the World Health Organization, 92% of the world population is exposed to air pollution that is harmful to health.

Based on the more stringent estimates of this organization, close to four million people die annually of ailments related to air pollution, and hundreds of millions of others suffer from the effects of daily pollution. But the most astounding item of information is that more than 90% of air pollution in developing countries is caused by vehicles. As of 2016, in Israel, air pollution caused by transportation has been responsible for the early death of 1,250 people annually.

This is not all. Studies show that air quality inside the car is worse than outside of it, and can be twice as bad as the pollution outside the car when driving on a main road. The gases that escape from the combustion engine of the car in front of us, through the exhaust system, and even particles of dust created by the brakes when applied, find their way into the car. We have all been concerned about the health effects of exposure to air pollution, but it turns out that pollution inside the car is twice as harmful, especially for children and infants.

Mapping technology

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So what can be done? Vehicles of the future will be equipped with Israeli technology that will help prevent the pollution from entering the car or accumulating inside. The development is the result of cooperation between the Israeli startup, BreezoMeter, and the German car electronics giant, HELLA.

The system combines an air pollution sensor manufactured by HELLA with air quality mapping technology developed by BreezoMeter, based on big data. BreezoMeter maps air quality using advanced pollution dispersion algorithms, based on traffic and weather data together with air quality measurements collected worldwide by sensors and satellites.

The cloud-based system relies on advanced dispersion algorithms and machine learning methods to aggregate and analyze the data in order to forecast air quality in real time, at the street level, in 67 countries.

How does it work?

The HELLA sensor monitors the amount of fine inhalable particles (PM2.5) in the vehicle and outside of it. These particles are extremely small, penetrate deeply into the lungs, and have a range of short- and long-term health effects. The data collected by the sensor are sent to the BreezoMeter system for advanced analysis. After analyzing the data, BreezoMeter returns to the systems operating inside the vehicle a complete set of air quality information for further action.

For example, the system may recommend that the driver change the itinerary to one that is less polluted. The system can also warn the driver in advance before entering a polluted area, so that passengers can close the windows, turn on the air conditioner, etc. BreezoMeter also provides information about allergens in the air, issues an air pollution forecast, and more.

“Cars nowadays are not only a source of pollution, but they are highly polluted spaces themselves. This fact creates demand on one hand, and regulation for improving air quality in the car on the other,” explains Ziv Lautman, a Technion graduate in environmental engineering and Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer at BreezoMeter. “Looking a few years ahead, autonomous vehicles will have to react to the environment. We don’t want to sit in a car with open windows, driving behind a polluting truck.”

According to Lautman, the topic of air quality in cars made headlines this year, when at the largest electronics show in the world, CES, in Las Vegas, Mercedes unveiled the Fit & Healthy platform, intended to improve the passengers’ comfort and quality of life. Other car manufacturers have already unveiled similar systems, so that improvement of air quality and the provision of information about it to passengers sounds like an entirely natural development in the car industry worldwide.

Strategic Partnership

The announcement about the partnership between the Israeli startup and the German electronics giant was made at the International Trade Fair for Mobility, Transportation and Logistics (IAA) in Frankfurt, by the CEO of HELLA, Dr. Rolf Breidenbach, and was presented as a strategic partnership between the companies. HELLA is a public company employing more than 38,000 workers in 35 countries, 7,000 of whom are engaged in research and development. It is among the 40 largest hardware suppliers to the international automotive industry, with revenue of 6.6B euro in 2016.

BreezoMeter was established in 2014, by Technion graduates Ran Korber (environmental engineer and CEO), Ziv Lautman (environmental engineer and Chief Marketing Officer), and Emil Fisher (software engineer and Chief Technology Officer). It employs 25 workers in Haifa and San Francisco. The company made headlines in 2015, when it won the Global Entrepreneurship Week Award, for which 640 companies from all over the world submitted entries, and was invited to meet US President, Barak Obama, at the While House, as part of an event introducing companies that could change the world for the better. In addition to the automotive area, the company is engaged also in the area of health, in the domain of HVAC and air purification, and in the field of smart cities. Among its prominent customers are Dyson, AccuWeather, Veolia, Eureka Forbes, GE, MANN+HUMMEL, Propeller Health, L'Oreal Paris, Cisco, and others.

The innovative system is already installed in several vehicles throughout Germany as part of a pilot program, and it is being marketed by the two partners directly to car manufacturers. BreezoMeter believes that the first cars equipped with their system will appear on our streets as early as 2019.

Ran Korber, BreezoMeter CEO, concludes that “our mission is to improve the health of some six billion people worldwide, who breathe polluted air that is harmful to their health. In the last four years, we developed a system that can map air pollution in real time to the street level in tens of countries. Soon, when there will be millions of air pollution sensors in vehicles, we will be able to produce the most accurate and detailed map of air pollution in the world. Above all, we will be able to make this important data available to businesses and individuals. We are very proud of the unique partnership with HELLA, which contributes to consolidating Israel’s position as a world automotive player.”

Blurb: The system can recommend that the driver change the itinerary to a cleaner one, issue an alert before entering a polluted area, and provide information about allergens in the air, air pollution forecast, and more.

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