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Auto-lease firms selling AI dashboard cameras to reduce accident risk

This photo shows a dashboard camera equipped with AI, sold by Orix Auto Corp. The device can spot dangerous behavior by drivers including looking sideways and dozing while at the wheel. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Some Japanese car leasing companies have launched sales of dashboard cameras using artificial intelligence to help corporate customers reduce accident risk, as more companies are keen on compliance and ensuring employees' safety.

    Orix Auto Corp. has started selling a dashboard camera equipped with AI that can spot dangerous behaviors of drivers including looking sideways and dozing while at the wheel. Orix Auto is asking companies that rent cars from it to use the camera.

    Sumitomo Mitsui Auto Service Co. is also providing an AI system to assess accident risk to companies. The system can analyze the recordings of a dashboard camera to judge the risk of the drivers being involved in an accident and produce a report.

    Dashboard cameras, known as "drive recorders" in Japan, record the view through front or rear windows of cars continuously. The recordings can be used as evidence in case of traffic and other accidents.

    Orix Auto's camera, developed by U.S. venture Nauto Inc., can shoot the behavior of the driver in the car, in addition to road conditions and obstacles outside the vehicle via two cameras.

    Demand for such in-vehicle video recorders is rapidly growing in Japan amid rising numbers of fatal road accidents caused by reckless driving such as operating a smartphone while driving.

    The initial introduction fee of Orix Auto's dashboard camera is 13,000 yen ($117) per vehicle, and monthly charge for the service costs 5,500 yen, both tax excluded.

    A total of 735,000 new vehicles were leased last year in Japan, up 13.5 percent from the previous year, according to the Japan Automotive Leasing Association.

    "It will show cases of dozing off when driving in the morning following overwork the previous day. (The service) enables customers to watch out for the safety of their employees," said Orix Auto President Katsunobu Kamei.

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