Every day, as thousands of trucks move around every corner of New Zealand, a Taupō-based
company is helping to ensure truck drivers and other road users get to their destination safely.
Autosense provides programs and technology that help to reduce risk and crashes, as well as the financial and hidden costs associated with these.
Autosense was established six years ago when Charles Dawson saw an opportunity to take world leading technology and scale up its application in New Zealand’s commercial transport industry. Charles’ background in delivering race car driving experiences and driver training led to taking on a business with a heavy vehicle simulator and to becoming New Zealand’s exclusive distributor for Guardian Seeing Machines – technology that monitors drivers’ levels of fatigue and distraction in real time and activate alarms when safety parameters are exceeded. Sean Campbell, with a background in hospitality, adventure tourism, sales and marketing, joined Charles to help grow and develop Autosense as an organisation that could have a meaningful and measurable impact on reducing the risk on our roads.
Autosense’s primary customer base is transport and logistics companies who put the Guardian
Seeing Machines in the cabs of their trucks. Guardian technology is now present in about 4,500 trucks across New Zealand and the units are responsible for 50-100 driver wake-ups every day.
The other side of the business is driver awareness training. Research shows that around 94% of incidents on our roads occur because of poor driver decisions, rather than a lack of skills. Driving is the riskiest activity that most of us undertake in our day to day lives, and many of us are required to drive as part of our jobs. Helping people to understand and be more aware of the factors that contribute to risk for any given journey helps them to make better decisions, sometimes before they even get into their vehicle.
Autosense offers training that focuses on improving drivers’ awareness of risks and decision-making skills. Key customers for this part of the business include government agencies and organisations with employees who need to be out on the roads to do their jobs. The training begins with a questionnaire that builds a risk profile for each driver based on their driving behaviour, attitude to driving and the type of driving they do. Autosense offers online training to all participants in the program, and one-on-one training is available for those that are identified with medium to high-risk profiles. A heavy vehicle simulator and two forklift simulators also travel the country to provide training opportunities.
Autosense operates nationwide with almost 80 employees. Over fifty of these are contractors based all over New Zealand installing Guardian technology or providing driver training. A team of 12 people is based in Taupō, as well as a small team in Auckland. Motor racing legend, Greg Murphy, who shares the Autosense team’s passion for road safety and driver training, is an ambassador for the organisation.
Sean and Charles recognised that seeking external expert advice and support would be an important part of enabling Autosense’s successful and sustainable growth. They worked with the team at Amplify who provided advice on seeking funding for projects and made an introduction to Callaghan Innovation, an agency that supports high-tech business in New Zealand. Amplify also helped subsidise the services of a consultant who worked with the Autosense leadership team to identify key goals, and a strategy and structure to help the organisation grow and achieve their objectives.
“While our leadership team has great experience and skills, we see value in drawing on the
professional expertise of experienced consultants and organisations like Amplify and Callaghan Innovation,” says Sean. “We see a huge need for services and technology that will help to improve the safety of people on New Zealand’s roads. The right support and advice helps us to scale up Autosense’s capacity to deliver these.”