Melbourne-based mobile phone detection company Acusensus (ASX: ACE) has secured its first contract in the US for its AI-based technology in a federally funded road safety initiative in North Carolina.
The technology, which is in widespread use across Australia to detect mobile phone usage and failure to wear seatbelts while driving, has been adopted by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety after an extensive testing program.
Acusensus says the landmark agreement is the first ongoing camera-supported program in the US to enforce mobile phone and seatbelt use.
However, while the Acusensus cameras in Australia are used for all road users, the North Carolina contract will be used to detect mobile phone and seat belt use only in commercial vehicles.
Acusensus’ US subsidiary has been contracted to deploy its Heads-Up Real Time system which transmits cases of distracted drivers ‘near instantly’ to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
“The program is federally funded, enforces federal laws and can generally be replicated across other states without legislative change,” says the company in an ASX announcement.
While the initial agreement is for one year, North Carolina has the option to renew the arrangement for two additional one-year periods.
Acusensus reveals that the contract is estimated to be worth US$500,000 ($768,000) over the next year with the revenue to be recorded in the company’s FY24 results.
Acusensus managing director and co-founder Alexander Jannink - who featured in the 2023 Australia's Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs list - sees the North Carolina contract as a ‘pivotal step’ in the company’s ambitions to crack the US market, which is one of the largest and most lucrative globally for the company.
“Bringing life-saving enforcement technology to the US has been a key focus of Acusensus, given the significant challenges with road user behaviour in that market,” Jannink says.
“I look forward to seeing this program adjust behaviour, save lives and being a reference point for other states and other compliance activities.”
Jannink, who listed Acusensus on the ASX in January following a $100 million IPO, revealed to Business News Australia at the time that the company expects the US to become its biggest market should adoption of the technology take off there.
The company has established subsidiaries in the US and UK where the company set up demonstrations and trials of its technology that is now in established use in Queensland, NSW and the ACT.
A revenue rise of 92 per cent was reported for the first half to reach $19.8 million, which led to a modest net profit of $100,000 – a result that bettered the prospectus target of a $300,000 loss. Gross profit of $8.4 million for the period was also up 5 per cent on forecasts.
Acusensus notes that road safety has become a ‘significant problem’ in the US, citing figures from North Carolina showing 1,658 people died on the state’s roads in 2020. This represents a death rate of 15.9 people per 100,000 compared with 4.3 people per 100,000 in Australia.
Acusensus was co-founded in 2018 by Jannink, an engineer who had previously spent years developing intelligent transportation systems and safety camera systems.
The company is still eyeing other Australian states to adopt its technology, which also includes point-to-point speed detection system to gauge the average speed of motorists.
In its prospectus, Acusensus revealed that apart from the US, The Netherlands is one of its most promising markets in Europe at present.
Jannink has also revealed that the company is exploring new product development that includes using AI to monitor driver fatigue and impairment from drugs and alcohol consumption.
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