Attention, There is a Deer

 A sound signals the driver “wild is nearby”. The wildwarner app of the start-up Wuidi warns of wild boar and deer. We show how it works. 

At dusk, the danger is especially high to hit wild. Photo: Fotolia

At dusk, the danger is especially high to hit wild. Photo: Fotolia

It was a blessing in disguise for the two students Alfons Weinzierl and Alexander Böckl in December of 2014: On the way back from university, a deer jumped in front of their car. The young men stayed unharmed, the car had a fender bender. And the deer? “It ran off immediately. However, we know now, that the animals die after such incidents most of the time”, Weinzierl explains to trans aktuell in an interview. That same night, the students from Lower Bavaria came up with a business idea: “We didn’t quite know what to do right after the incident and had to wait for the hunter in charge, for over an hour.” They don’t want other motorists to have that problem in the future.

Studying Digital Business Management, Weinzierl and Böckl have been fiddling about with digital business models, anyway. Therefor they had the idea for an app, which prevents wildlife related accidents and offers first aid advice if they occur. During their master’s degree studies, they developed concepts, worked together with the Bavarian ministry of the interior and Bavarian police and, in the end, were awarded the founder’s scholarship of the federal ministry of economy and energy. Together with programmer Jozo Lagetar, the three founders each received 2.500 Euro gross every month for one year and an additional 30.000 Euro for equipment.

The App Will Remain Free

Since June 2017, the app is available for iOS and Android, nationwide and free of charge. “It will remain free in the future”, Weinzierl promises. In the first year, the scholarship had helped, by now, the company, still consisting of only the three founders, were already in the black. “We finance on service contracts, further start-up promotions and, as everything is done digitally, we are not facing high ancillary costs.”

 Attention Deer - Road signs are not enough to avoid accidents. Photo: Fotolia - Trueffelpix

Attention Deer – Road signs are not enough to avoid accidents. Photo: Fotolia – Trueffelpix

To be in the blacks only one year after market launch is unusual for a start-up. However, Weinzierl (30), Böckl (30) and Lagetar (31) have discovered a market niche. Their company Wuidi, Wuid is the Bavarian word for wildlife, creamed off the German Mobility Award last year and were nominated for the Dekra Award in the category traffic safety, among others. For, according to Weinzierl, experience shows that: traffic signs warning of crossing deer are far from enough, these days. Therefor, Wuidi interlinks hunters and road users digitally. Hunters enter deer crossings on www.wuidi.com and may optionally leave their contact data, so in the case of an incident in their district, they can be at the location in an instant. According to Weinzierl, hunters then also use a gun to release the deer from its suffering after an accident, if necessary. “To this day, 800 districts have signed up”, Weinzierl explains. In the beginning, the focus was on Bavaria only, which, by now had changed, though. “The service is available in all of Germany.”

Around 30.000 Registered Road Users

The target group of road users were bigger: around 30.000 have already signed up. The app didn’t have to be open during the drive, but might as well run in the background. “This was important to us, so there would be no distractions.” If the driver arrives at an area of altered risk, an acoustic signal occurs, cautioning the driver to drive slowly, also depending on the date and time of day. The Wildwarner app may also be connected to the vehicle via Bluetooth. Essentially, the service is available for all roads.

“As most highways are fenced we concentrate on highly frequented country roads near forests.” The app’s main purpose is to prevent deer involving incidents. If an accident occurs, however, the Wildwarner app still helps. A to-do list tells you, what to do. The location is detected by GPS and the nearest police department and the district’s ranger are displayed for making contact. This happened about 20 times, last month. “Unfortunately, it’s hard to measure, how many accidents we prevent, though.”

Reflectors keep animals from crossing the road. Photo: Fotolia - Gerhard Seybert

Reflectors keep animals from crossing the road. Photo: Fotolia – Gerhard Seybert

Introduce the App in other Countrys

Yet, commendations from animal protectionists gave them a certain deal of approval. In the end, man trespassed the animals’ habitats. “In Germany, wildlife related accidents occur every two and a half minutes. More animals are killed on the roads than by hunting.” In most cases, the animals are the victims, while humans get off lightly. “Other than in Scandinavian countries: if an elk jumps in front of your windshield, often, nasty accidents happen.” Hence, Weinzierl sees potential in expanding the app to other countries. Specific requests have been made by Switzerland, Luxemburg, Austria and the Czech Republic.

The founder has another business idea for shipping companies. “On expos, we get positive feedback from truck drivers.” They could use a similar function like hunters do, entering deer crossing areas to the portal under www.wuidi.com.

Integration in Telematics System Possible

Beyond that, he has an integration of the app in the telematics system of trucks in mind. If a truck driver gets involved in a deer accident, the app reports the location to the dispatcher. To promote this idea, the three young men are currently looking for a company with an own fleet. “We don’t want to plan this theoretically, but test it in the field right from the start.” With their solid approach they have been successful so far: “We rather grow a little more slowly, but sustainably.”

The Company

  • The Wildwarner app is available for both iOS and Android since June 2017.
  • Warns of possible deer crossings during the drive and helps by GPS localization if an accident occurs.
  • Founders: Alfons Weinzierl, Alexander Böckl, Jozo Lagetar
  • Located in Geiselhöring (Bavaria)
  • Winner of the German Mobility Award 2017

How to Act in an Emergency

  • When encountering deer: be ready to break, switch off high beam, sound horn
  • If a collision is inevitable: tight grip on the steering wheel, break strongly, no evasive maneuvers

 

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