The term telematics combines the words telecommunications and informatics. Telematics is an integration of wireless communications, vehicle monitoring systems and location tracking devices. At a simple level, telematics may involve using GPS to track vehicles in a fleet. But today, the most sophisticated telematics systems can be used to intervene when a truck driver is going too fast, following too closely, or falling asleep behind the wheel.
The wireless cellular networks that fleet managers use to phone drivers can do much more than let them stay in touch -- they can monitor and even manage driver behavior.
Here are some of the things you can track with fleet telematics systems and the trends we are seeing.
• Fuel consumption
• Remote engine diagnostics
• Automatic distress signals
• Driver line of vision
• Road conditions, i.e., visibility, precipitation, and temperature
• Vehicle speed versus posted speed limit
• Vehicle proximity to other vehicles
• Driver position in vehicle
• Driver location when outside of vehicle
• Amount of driver time spent in each location
• Location of trailers
• Location of container cars
What are the trends?
- Regulation is expected to clarify requirements for the use of Electronic-On-Board Recorders (EBORs) on commercial trucks. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) previously issued rules to compel compliance with electronic monitoring, the new regulation seeks to clarify previous ambiguities, in particular regarding what might constitute driver harassment based on continuous surveillance.
- Telematics will become a communication platform for apps and services that go across all vehicle domains: the powertrain, the chassis, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and infotainment. This diversity of information tracking further increases the value of telematics for fleet managers. Examples:
• Sensors on reefers (cold-storage containers) trigger alarms when temperatures fall outside required norms to keep food preserved, and also provide an audit trail. Ensuring food is transported unspoiled has obvious advantages for customer service and efficiency.
• Data collected on public transport system vehicles can be shared with the public via smartphone apps and web portals, improving customer service by communicating accurate arrival and departure times, as well as other pertinent information concerning vehicle status.
• Social media integration can keep drivers connected with customers and provide updates on location and estimated times of arrival. Social media data can also improve route mapping.
• Taxi drivers are using smartphones and tablets to receive fares, while customers use the same devices to book a taxi. This data can be integrated into the vehicle's overall telematics.
• Back-seat video systems provide a number of display features for passengers, including current location maps, selected video clips, information about transportation company, or destinations and cities, as well as a credit card reader to pay for the fare or service.
- Retrofitting telematics systems to older vehicles not only improves overall vehicle management, but also useful vehicle life expectancy. Aftermarket systems are particularly attractive as a one-stop telematics solution to manage mixed fleets of light-and heavy-duty use.
- Vehicle-to-Vehicle communications (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications. Also called Cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems (C-ITS). Vehicles, roadways, police and safety departments will automatically share updates on traffic and safety conditions in real time. Vehicle-embedded computer systems interpret data collected from these sources, issue appropriate notifications, and suggest responses.
- Before long, self-driving vehicle won't be just something you see in the latest sci-fi movie. Vehicle makers are testing the technology and expect it to be operational throughout the United States within 10 years. Convoys of autonomous trucks travelling along smart roads are envisioned not only as a more efficient means of transportation, but a safer means of moving people and materials. Preliminary trials of a driverless convoy of 10 vehicles led by one driver in a lead truck showed a 15 percent improvement in fuel consumption. Already, automated emergency braking, lane switching and cruise control systems -- all part of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) -- are taking over from the human driver and will soon become standard equipment.
• Using mobile devices increases self-service option. Customers can bypass human customer service operators to directly rent, fuel and pay for vehicle use through their smartphone or tablet. Telematics will ensure drivers adhere to vehicle requirements for safety, drop-off and pick-up times, and geo-fencing restrictions.