Automatic App Tracks Driving Habits, Fuel, Parking

Brandon Dimmel's picture

A new electronic device promises to help drivers tailor their driving habits in order to save money on fuel.

The device, which is called "Automatic" and developed by a company of the same name, plugs into your car's computer socket. Most cars have this type of socket if the vehicle was made after 1996. The socket connects directly to the car's onboard computer, and is typically located under the steering wheel, not far from the gas and brake pedals.

Users then pair Automatic's hardware device with a special smartphone application that is compatible with both Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms.

Automatic Collects Data About Driving Behavior

After the device is installed, Automatic collects information about your driving habits. It then shows drivers how they can improve their gas mileage, such as braking easier, accelerating slower, and not speeding. (Source:

Automatic can also display detailed information about a driving week, from how much to how far the vehicle was driven. Automatic then tallies up scores of driving habits every single week, with the aim of helping users to progressively improve their gas mileage.

There's more to the idea than just saving gas, however. It can also be used to help diagnose 'check engine' codes, track where you parked your car, display miles per gallon (MPG) used on a particular trip, and can even use the smartphone's built-in accelerometer to detect a serious collision and then alert the authorities. (Source:

The Automatic device costs about $100, though the company behind it claims drivers will save many times that in fuel costs over the long haul.

"Usage-based Insurance" Uses Similar Tracking System

The idea behind Automatic might sound familiar to drivers who have been paying attention to recent changes in the automotive insurance industry. Right now there are a number of insurers, including Progressive, that are testing a system called "usage-based insurance", also known as pay as you drive (PAYD) and pay how you drive (PHYD), and mile-based auto insurance.

Just like Automatic, Usage-based insurance (UBI) uses a similar device to track driving behavior. In the case of Usage-based insurance, however, driving data is automatically sent wirelessly to the driver's insurance company, rather than a smartphone. The information is then used to calculate a more accurate insurance premium defined by the insurance company.

Tracking and relaying driving habits to insurance companies has raised much debate in recent weeks, however. Opponents say it not only infringes upon privacy, but there are fears that auto insurance companies may misuse the data and raise premiums unfairly. There are also fears that cybercriminals or government agencies could potentially access the tracking information to illegally track a person's location. (Source:

With that said, it's also possible that Automatic could be programmed to share the information it collects with insurance companies in a future release of its smartphone app software, although there has been no speculation or claims from the company to date to state exactly this.

What's Your Opinion?

Aside from the potential privacy risks, do you like the idea behind Automatic? What do you think about usage-based insurance and the relaying of driving habits to insurance companies? Do you think these kinds of tracking-based systems will make driving safer, or just the opposite? Or are you concerned that such systems could be exploited by spy agencies and cyber-crooks?

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blueboxer2's picture

I have been driving since 1946 (no, that is NOT a misprint) without ever collecting a ticket for a moving violation or at-fault accident. So I am not some soreheaded paranoid reckless scofflaw with a bad conscience.

But for privacy reasons I still do not want anyone peering over my shoulder and making notes every time I turn on the ignition in my car. And I think that the fact that insurance companies already have these devices and are pushing their use is evidence that as soon as they can get industry consensus in their lobbying plans they will be changing their approach from bribery to coercion.

And just how long until such devices become accepted evidence in the courts? And when will they be combined with dashboard cameras?

And how many more days till the insurance companies start raising customer premiums on the pretence that their built- in spies show evidence of dangerous (as defined by the company, of course) behaviour? Count on your fingers?

If I want to monitor my vehicle's performance I can get a more informative device at any hot rod shop, that's won't talk to anyone but me. I don't need some third party's spy constantly peering over my shoulder looking for an excuse to make my mandatory insurance more costly. Outlaw the spies.

willysharpe24_8773's picture

Technology rules the world and therefore, we should take beneficial advantages from the technology. Simply in a vehicle, we can get different types of technology nowadays and it helps to develop our driving experience. Here this article describes the complete structure of automatic apps those are helpful in vehicle tracking, driving, and many other issues. I hope in near future also, we can get some more beneficial apps in our vehicles.