The Dubai-based startup, Derq, recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding after graduating from TechStars Mobility Accelerator, all in the aim of making cars smarter and roads safer.
In addition to growing its team and opening a second office in Detroit, the company plans on using the raised capital to advance its technology. They aim to reduce vehicle accidents in the UAE by improving how cars and infrastructure communicate with each other.
Derq is an MIT spin-off with a mission to eliminate road accidents and save lives by using artificial intelligence and V2X technology. It claims to be able to predict and prevent car accidents before they take place.
Earlier this month, Derq signed an agreement with Dubai-based agencies to try its technology. The company says this memorandum of understanding aims to "demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of connected vehicle technology in regards to road safety."
“Dubai is at the forefront of adopting innovative technologies that focus on improving road safety and autonomous vehicle deployments. We’re honored to be working with Smart Dubai Office, RTA, and Dubai Oasis Authority to implement Derq’s road safety technology in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis,” said Dr. Georges Aoude, Derq's CEO, in a blog post.
The company is currently testing a system that would see roadside scanners search for speeding and swerving drivers.
It would then send messages to surrounding cars that were fitted with an onboard partner device to be on alert.
The intention is to give motorists a crucial two-second warning that could stop a collision from happening.
The device would search for potential accidents; for example, a driver who looks as if they will run a red light at a junction. It would then alert approaching drivers on how they are likely to have to take urgent actions.
“GCC road safety is a big problem and this is a difficult problem to solve. The technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) coupled with connected vehicle technology to prevent car accidents," Dr. Georges Aoude told UAE-based daily, The National.
“If we can predict this behavior - not at the last second because that’s too late - then you would have enough time to react and avoid that accident that could have been fatal or caused injuries,” Dr. Aoude continued.
Derq - on a mission to save lives
Autonomous vehicles promise a future where roads are safer and the number one cause of road accidents, human error, is eliminated.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) around 1.25 million people across the world lose their lives from car crashes every year, an average of 3,400 deaths every day.
This is in addition to 20-50 million annual accident-related injuries.
According to the UAE's Ministry of Interior, the top 10 causes of death are sudden swerving or abrupt lane changing (21%,) speeding (12%,) and not keeping enough distance between cars (11%).
Other causes of accidents include misjudgment, lack of attention, no lane discipline, and entering the road without checking if it is clear.
What are autonomous vehicles?
Dubai at the forefront of adopting innovative technologies
“Dubai is at the forefront of adopting innovative technologies that focus on improving road safety and autonomous vehicle deployments,” Aoude said in a press release.
Towards the end of October, Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid reshuffled the cabinet and announced new ministries.
At the time, the ruler of Dubai tweeted that the new structural change was followed by the Government’s recent annual meeting and launch of the UAE Centennial plan 2071.
The new government appointed the 27-year-old Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama as State Minister for Artificial Intelligence.
“We want the UAE to become the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence,” Sheikh Mohammed's tweet read.