Rudder, developed by University of Michigan graduates Hannah Dow and Steve Coffey, is a brand new mobile app that incorporates a city’s street light data and coherent turn-by-turn directions to display the quickest, best-illuminated route home. The point of this may not be immediately obvious to everyone, but there is a very good reason behind it…

In a survey commissioned by the Telegraph in January 2015, it was found that one in three female students has been assaulted, sexually or otherwise, on poorly lit UK campuses. It also found that one in eight male students has endured a similar experience.

Let there be light…

Walking home in the dark isn’t a particularly pleasant experience, but one that many of us endure on a regular, if not daily basis. “The experience of travelling at night is just completely different than during the day. It’s harder to see, and even if you know where you’re going, it’s easier to miss landmarks and street signs at night,” says Dow.

Rudder aims to address this by providing directions that only include routes with adequately appointed street lighting. The app’s algorithm won’t take you any more than five to eight minutes out of your way and also allows your smartphone’s camera to act as a serviceable light meter.

A navigation app unlike any other…

The proliferation of mobile applications in recent years means that Rudder is something of a rarity. In a digital age where my phone can track my sleeping patterns, control my boiler or allow me to ruthlessly machine gun an oncoming horde of bloodthirsty zombies, it has become increasingly difficult for developers to create something unique, interesting or genuinely useful.

Rudder is already causing a stir though, and with additional functionality already planned; from sharing your journey’s progress with friends and family to providing the option to manipulate your route based on distance or lighting, it seems clear that the two co-creators have high hopes for an app that offers a genuinely useful solution to a genuinely real problem in today’s heavily saturated app landscape.

Upon launch, Rudder will only be available to university students in a select few US cities. While unfortunate, it’s probably best to remember that a tiny platform known as Facebook started life under a similar set of restrictions, but swelled to become the ubiquitous, all-consuming social media juggernaut we all know and love today…

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Moss

Hi Hannah & Steve,

Thanks for your comment – it’s lovely to hear from the brains behind such a fantastic app!

I had a lot of fun reading and writing about Rudder’s potential and it’s great to hear that it’s now available for download. Congratulations!

Be sure to keep me in the loop on how things are going, especially if you find yourselves considering bringing Rudder to the UK.

Keep up the good work!