Transforming the roads with transport solutions
A transformative software company combines engineering, science and
psychology to help make traffic lights more efficient.
Da Vinci Research is the brainchild of Urie Bezuidenhout, a civil engineer with more than two decades of experience specialising in traffic and transportation.
Identifying significant issues with the interface between traffic infrastructure and
road users, Urie enrolled in a PhD in 2010 at the University of Auckland, in order to investigate and develop a software solution.
As a PhD student Urie entered and reached the finals of the Velocity (formerly Spark) 100k Challenge in 2011, he earned 3rd place, an honour that enabled him to spend three months at the ICEHOUSE, a business growth hub based at the University of Auckland. As a result, Urie and his team developed software that works with existing traffic infrastructure to reduce waiting times for vehicles at intersections. The software has the ability to interface with systems in New Zealand, Australia and South-East Asia.
Da Vinci Research also focuses on a driver behaviour at the approach to signalised intersections. Known as “Opera”, this work is related to Urie’s PhD research. Unlike the traditional method of asking engineers to try to understand the behaviour of cars, Opera aims to understand the road environment from the driver’s perspective. As a result, explains Urie, he and his team use “eye tracking as an analytical tool because that gives us insight into how drivers actually think, what they perceive, and why they react as they do.”
Urie hails Velocity as an ideal programme for engineering students to learn how to enter the business world, including how to present their ventures to potential investors.
“Velocity taught me many invaluable skills, particularly around how to commercialise your products and understand the business environment better.”