Direct Line tackles darkness with Fleetlights: GPS drones that light your way home

London, 16th November 2016: Direct Line has created a way to make people safer in darkly-lit areas: Fleetlight drones that light your way on the path ahead. The prototype service: a fleet of flying torch drones, are responsive to an individual’s movements and controlled via a bespoke app.

As the ‘Fixer’ brand, Direct Line wanted to solve the issue of darkness that affects communities across the UK by looking at the problem in a new way. Not currently available to the public, Fleetlights is a brand activation campaign which focuses on high performance fixing that will see the brand undertaking a series of experiments to improve everyday objects that impact the lives of people in the UK.

Mark Evans, Marketing Director at Direct Line Group said: “Increasingly, technology will shift the centre of gravity for insurance from restitution towards prevention. We want to lead the trend into this space and so we are always looking at innovative ways to proactively improve everyday life through emerging technologies. We felt that street lights could be much better, especially as the nights draw in. This beta technology has been created to show how a responsive light service could help people to feel safer.”

The problem of darkness

Direct Line, as a motor and home insurer, is acutely aware of the threat that comes with the dark nights that arrive in Autumn. As the nights draw in and sunlight hours are reduced, Britons feel more at risk of muggings and road traffic accidents, as well as feeling more depressed. People are less likely to leave their houses, as poorly lit streets can feel unsafe. Road traffic accidents increase at this time of year, with 41% of these increases resulting in injury to pedestrians.* Searches for Seasonal Affective Disorder spike in October and November every year.

The solution

Direct Line worked with communications agency Saatchi & Saatchi to create Fleetlights. Whether you’re walking home from your pub shift late at night, or part of a search and rescue team, people can feel more safe, secure, and confident to use previously dimly-lit routes, by ordering a drone using their phone to light the path for the duration of the journey.

The tech

Direct Line collaborated with Mission Planner technology expert Michael Oborne to create new ‘Fleet Control’ technology. The Fleet Control prototype software enables Fleetlights to be ordered via GPS and mobile technology directly from the user’s smartphone.  The technology lights a pre-determined path ahead of the user, while responding and adapting to changes in the user’s journey.

Wendy Pearson, Head of Marketing, Direct Line, said: “Fleetlights is an incredibly exciting project, that demonstrates how Direct Line has taken a real consumer issue and solved it in a high performance way."

These technology developments are available on the website and open sourced to anyone to use globally. 

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