by Scott Osberg
GDC is an eco-driving game with the mission to reduce emissions and save you money. Think Fitbit for your driving.
About this project
The Green Driving Challenge
In the face of extreme climate change, we were frustrated with the recurring environmental damage that our driving was doing. So, we decided to do something to slow the impact. Introducing The Green Driving Challenge (GDC) – a real world game that makes learning to eco-drive fun and easy.
GDC is unlike any other app or game currently on your mobile device. GDC has all of the elements of a game, including earning points, working as a team, and competing with friends. However, GDC doesn’t stop in the virtual world. By eco-driving, most GDC players will reduce their vehicle emissions by 5 to 25%. That difference can really help slow climate change, and cut costs on gas!
By playing GDC, a number of great things happen. You will:
- Learn how to eco-drive, and make your daily commute to work or your weekly trip to the grocery store interesting and purposeful. As you travel, you earn points for focused, smart driving choices. Like a Fitbit for your driving, you can either compete against yourself or against other players.
- Reduce your fuel use, and experience two huge benefits: improving the environment and saving money on gas. We measure how much CO2 you reduce, and, in turn, how many dollars you save. You’ll be able to actually see the difference that you’re making in the world – and in your bank account!
- Take control of your fuel economy. Many vehicles get lower than their expected miles per gallon (MPG), and most drivers find it difficult to accurately calculate their vehicle’s MPG. After you’ve driven about 500 miles, we can tell you what what your vehicle’s MPG is for a variety of environments, as well as provide you with individualized tips to boost your MPG.
With scientific evidence indicating that climate change is accelerating, GDC addresses an urgent environmental and social problem. Despite growing concerns about climate change, little is being done to engage the public to help address the problem. GDC provides people with a way to take meaningful action and get engaged in the wider battle to slow climate change.
So, what is eco-driving? Vehicle maintenance and anticipation ─ paying close attention to the roadway environment and to other vehicles – are at its core. Eco-drivers also aim to avoid unnecessary idling and rapid acceleration, and try to maintain reasonable and consistent speeds. It’s not difficult; the trick is to be consistent and get used to a little different driving style. For more information, check out the eco-driving tips on our website.
How It Works
Players download a mobile eco-driving app and plug a data logger (OBD scanner) into their vehicle to record location, trip time, distance, fuel used, speed, and engine RPM. This information is sent to our database, where it is analyzed and then presented to you on our website in the form of maps and easily grasped statistics, such as your average miles per gallon (MPG). Players will also be able to compare themselves to other users and see how they’re doing in the monthly race to win top eco-driving recognitions.
While GDC is a game that you technically play in your car, it is safe. To get points, you have to eco-drive, which requires paying attention to the road at all times. Players do not look at their mobile device while they drive. Their phone or tablet simply collects data on driving style, and players can see how they did after they finish the trip. The real winning occurs when you see how much money you’re saving on gas, and how many pounds of CO2 you’re reducing.
As of March 1, 2016, we have accumulated over 32,000 miles of data from eight drivers who have collectively averted 1.7 tons of CO2, and saved $452. Along with gathering data, we are currently testing a prototype, building a team, and beginning to search for allies who are equally passionate about addressing climate change.
Your support will help us reach three important goals: improving the game, refining our Android app, and developing an iOS app.
Funding Goal: $15,000
- Web development of head-to-head and team competition
- Pilot testing the game
- Making the game more fun
Stretch Goal: $30,000
- GDC will be made available for iOS systems
- Game improvements based on your feedback
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, vehicles as old as 1996 will be able to play the game! We hate to leave all you iPhone and iPad users out, so if we reach our initial goal of $15,000, our stretch goal of $30,000 will help us make the GDC app compatible with iOS systems.
MyClubEco is a company driven by an environmental mission. Based in Virginia and Washington, DC, the mission of MyClubEco is to protect the environment and help slow climate change with our product, the Green Driving Challenge.
Co-founder and President Scott Osberg dreamed up GDC after doing injury prevention and traffic safety research for 20 years. Over that time, the industry’s tactics came a long way. Old approaches, like trying to scare people into driving more safely, were considered ineffective. Using positive education approaches worked better, but changing people’s behavior by telling them what they should do is still a challenge. Scott thought, why not harness people’s concern about the environment to reduce vehicle emissions? Eco-driving is safer because it involves paying close attention to the road and other vehicles. Let’s build a game that teaches people to eco-drive.
Scott enjoyed the outdoors as a kid and considered himself an environmentalist growing up. He was 18 at the time of 1973 OPEC Oil Boycott, so with the long lines at gas stations and inflated gas prices, going easy on the gas pedal made perfect sense. Fast forward 40 years, and eco-driving has become popular in Europe, as well as in U.S. trucking fleets. Why hadn’t this safe, reduced-fuel style of driving caught on with more drivers in the United States? Lower gas prices in the U.S. are partially to blame, as is the fact that it’s quite difficult to measure improvements in fuel reduction. Now we have the technology to measure driving style, fuel use, and build the game.
Scott’s partner, GDC co-founder, and Georgetown University Professor, Sarah C. Stiles, encouraged Scott to build his vision. He quit his job and hired a number of consultants over several years. Rebecca Hinch, a University of Virginia 2015 graduate began as a test driver in 2014 and is now a full-time employee. Rebecca is involved in virtually all aspects of GDC development and has been instrumental in bringing this real-world game to life.
Over the past year, three University of Virginia students have contributed as well. Sam Moore, Cameron Blandford, and Jake Mathews, current computer science students, have led the team’s technology projects, including website design and implementing gamification elements. When you consider the the costs of paying our team and business consultant on top of the costs to develop an app and website, it’s time that we seek outside funding.
After months of app and website development, data collection, and research, we are ready to launch GDC. Please join as a player or make a donation. Many thanks!
To thank you for your support, we have some great rewards, including bumper stickers, t-shirts, early adopter memberships, stays at B&Bs, and listing in our Victory Garage Hall of Fame. See our support levels for all of the available purchasing options.
Risks and challenges
Ladies and gentlemen – start your engines! After much work, GDC is at the prototype testing stage. The immediate objective is to streamline GDC so that playing is easier and more fun, so our Early Adopters will be vital for this stage of the project. If you’re up for trying out a new tech product, see our Early Adopter ($35) reward level!
Test driver feedback will be critical for improving our current technology. Are there problems installing the scanners? Will players load the app and remember to press connect every time they drive? How often will players want updates on the monthly competition or want to see their recent trips? As a test driver, you’ll be providing us with valuable information.
We need to convince people that GDC offers much more than apps that you download for free. We need to make it clear that:
-The game requires an OBD scanner, which we provide, but costs roughly $7 with shipping
-The license for our app costs $3 per download, which is also included with a membership
-Most people will save money on gas and pay off their membership in a month or two
-When you play GDC, you benefit the environment. How many free apps can claim that?!
Game Integrity – Measurement, Fairness, and Fun
We need millions of miles of driving data from many different cars and drivers. More data will help us:
-Evaluate the precision of our measurement tools
-Assess fairness (e.g. comparing city and rural drivers)
-Better understand individual driving styles
-Improve eco-driving feedback to individual drivers
-See what gets drivers to “keep coming back” to record every trip
Finding business partners
We are currently searching for allies who are equally passionate about addressing climate change. We’re also beginning to look for partnerships with businesses and environmental organizations. Companies that could benefit from getting involved with GDC include those that sell OBD scanners, conduct driver education, or sell auto parts. Environmental organizations could help us get the word out and increase their membership as well as ours.
With that all said…
The timing is perfect. The Pope is on board and the Paris Climate Change Conference was a step in the right direction. GDC can build on this momentum and empower drivers to “be the change.” There’s nothing like GDC, and yet eco-driving is a huge untapped resource for fighting climate change. We’re ready to put GDC out there, so now we need your financial support and feedback to know that we’re on the right track.
We can accommodate 50 test drivers right away. We will make improvements with feedback from these early adopter players, and then around July 2016, we’ll have hundreds of memberships ready for those who want to play the “new and improved” version of the game.
Finally, we’re launching GDC in the United States first, but we know that people in other countries will be interested, too. Regardless of where you live, it’s still possible to provide us with financial support in return for perks, including the open-ended donation starting as low as $3, the $5 vote for bringing GDC to your country, the $50 Awesome Altruist donation, and all of the big donor perks. Once GDC is running in the U.S., we hope to bring GDC to a neighborhood near you!
Please join us as we begin this important journey!