Want to save money on gas and improve road safety? Automatic, a new San Francisco-based startup, is helping drivers learn “hypermilling,” a practice in which drivers reduce bad habits that waste fuel. By hooking up a smartphone to a car’s OBD-II Data Link Connector (found underneath the steering wheel in most cars produced after 1996), and downloading the corresponding app, drivers can be alerted when they make errors such as accelerating too quickly or slamming on the brakes. The information is then consolidated by the app to give the driver a final grade between 60 and 100. The idea is that observant drivers will modify their behavior (even if just to avoid the beeping, which goes off when a mistake occurs), saving up to hundreds of dollars each year on gas.
But Automatic also goes a step further by providing drivers with various “smart enhancements” to keep them safe. The app can diagnose mechanical problems, and dial emergency responders or family members if the car is in an accident. For the forgetful, Automatic can even remind you where your car is parked. You may not earn a perfect driving score, but peace of mind might be worth the frequent beeping.