What is Telematics? An Overview
At its simplest form telematics started off as a vehicle tracking system, a dot on the map with location reporting, and only possible because of GPS, the Global Positioning System first launched in 1960 by the US government for the US Navy.
Who would have thought that those first five satellites orbiting the earth would set in motion technology so sophisticated that today we can detect harsh braking, report on CO2 emissions, and provide the information for autonomous vehicles?
When vehicle tracking was first introduced to company vehicles it was viewed with a great deal of scepticism and suspicion. The idea that a company could track its employees while they were out driving for work was not well received.
Was it just a case of keeping an eye on them? Waiting to catch them out if they were caught being somewhere they shouldn’t have been, at a time they shouldn’t have been? Was Big Brother really watching and waiting?
Well at first I suppose this wasn’t really that far from the truth, as all the tracking technology could do at this point was just give a location and a time for the vehicle during a timeframe. You could pull off reports to show journey history and that was pretty much it.
Unsurprisingly drivers didn’t really want tracking in their vehicles as it was seen as an unwanted spy rather than the protecting driver safety feature that it has now become.
What Do Telematics Offer Today?
Today vehicle telematics are very sophisticated systems, being deployed with in company fleets to help improve road safety, reduce and control vehicle emissions, as well as improve and drive efficiency.
Our roads are heavily congested with different types of traffic including public transport and pedestrian, just getting around safely and assessing the risks is a big part of today’s systems. The first risk that needs to be addressed are the drivers themselves, and this is an area telematics plays an increasingly important part.
Driver behaviour and driving style can be assessed through telematics, reporting in real time on events that include speeding, harsh braking and accelerating. If it is seen that the driver is a potential risk then the company can take steps to re-educate the driver and change bad habits. Prior to telematics this risk may only have been picked up after an accident had occurred.
Fuelling events can also be detected, allowing you to see how often this occurs and to see if there is a correlation with driver style. This will help to work out if they are driving in an efficient way, taking the most economical routes. This information helps companies decide which routes to plan and in what order, making the journeys more fuel efficient and as a result reducing the vehicles’ CO2 and NOX emissions.
These powerful innovative concepts in vehicle tracking and on-board diagnostic systems, using the latest GPS technology, are able to support fleet managers, operators and the drivers by providing some, if not all, of these benefits and tools;
- Real time vehicle tracking
- Real time Geo Fencing (link to Wikipedia)
- Journey history reporting
- Full driver behaviour reporting and profiling
- Vehicle fault alerts
- Actual mileage reporting
- Fuel monitoring and re-fuelling events
- Actual MPG reporting
- Actual CO2 reporting (link to the Carbon Trust)
- Automated driver time sheets
- Automated servicing alerts
- Automated crash alerts and reporting
The Future Of Fleet Data Management
Looking to the future with the Internet of Moving Things becoming more advanced, and we move ever closer towards the autonomous connected vehicle and infrastructure, telematics will become an integral part in this integrated system.
Data from telematics and car mounted cameras will take away the physical actions of driving, potentially leaving the driver free to become a passenger.
This brings up all sorts of other areas that need to be considered. There will be implications with regards to insurance, who would be responsible for any accidents, the driver or the vehicle manufacturer who built in the autonomous safety features?
I recently read not that long ago, an article asking a very interesting question regarding the moral obligations of autonomous vehicles (AV’s). Because the AV’s will be programmed with safety features protecting them from potential collisions and accidents, who makes the decision as to who is protected when writing the software? Will the passengers’ safety be paramount or the pedestrians outside of the vehicle? Will there need to be a human code of ethics factored in?
The journey of tracking to telematics is one of a constant state of evolution that is not finished yet. There will be many more advances in the technology, and huge volumes of data that will be collected, that will throw up many more areas of contention.
It should not be forgotten that telematics is at present playing a huge part in improving driver and road safety as well as helping move towards a greener environment. But whereas in the past tracking was seen as an unwanted spy, with telematics in the future become the silent thief of personal data?