The automotive industry has witnessed a significant transformation with the integration of telecommunications and informatics ever since the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Telematics has become an indispensable part of the transportation sector. Primarily being linked with infotainment systems in cars, telematics has come a long way and is now being implemented in monitoring a variety of vehicle parameters, which can be associated with a single vehicle to a huge fleet. In order to achieve the goal of efficient and safe freight transportation in the field of commercial vehicles, vehicle telematics is playing a major role in the form of the Internet of Things that Move (IoT).
This paper explores various ways in which the vehicle telematics system can help in optimized usage of resources and increase fuel efficiency, enhance safety, improve communication, and provide lucrative maintenance strategies. A thorough analysis of the telematics system and its implementation techniques is the main goal of this study which can be achieved by employing a comprehensive assessment of different patents and research work.
Mobility is the driving force for the economic development of a nation. Exchange of resources by means of transportation forms the backbone of industries and businesses to achieve their desired progress rates and stay put in the competitive globalized world. As trade and commerce of a nation rely on transportation and technological advancements, different modes of transport like air, maritime, rail and road have to constantly evolve in order to maintain the balance between demand and supply and assure efficient utilization of all resources.
Statistical data for 2017 shows that road is the leading mode of freight transportation at the intra-EU level (51.5%) followed by maritime transport and rail transport accounting for 32.4% and 11.6% respectively (Eurostat, 2017). The industry of commercial vehicles comprising of Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), drivers, fleet management companies, and consumers, is a dynamic ecosystem, where all these actors come together to facilitate the economic growth of a nation.
With the development of new concepts in logistics, the commercial vehicles sector is experiencing immense pressure to accommodate new trends and simultaneously provide efficient safe freight transportation and other services. The automotive industry is the key source of emissions and a major consumer of fuel resources. Manufacturers have to adhere to fuel emission standards set by policymakers so as to reduce hazardous environmental impacts and help in tackling climate change. OEMs and fleet management companies have to focus on improving the fuel economy of vehicles for achieving cost-efficient business models. Ensuring safe mobility options is also a major concern for the automotive industry. Vehicle safety comprises of crash avoidance, immediate assistance in case of emergency, enabling technological measures to guarantee crash mitigation, and implementing trained drivers for the fleet. But the industry faces a major challenge of providing affordable safety features for all vehicle categories. Safety is the foundation of the Decade of Action’s Global Plan for Road Safety 2011-2020 and the EU Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020 (European Commission, 2016). The industry is carrying out extensive research so as to meet the demanding standards of emission control and safe mobility.
In recent years, the automotive field has witnessed revolutionary changes with the inception of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). A unique interdisciplinary package of communication, vehicle technology, and information transfer, ITS, is gradually transforming vehicles into computers on wheels. Vehicle telematics, the pillar of ITS, basically revolves around data transmission over large distances. With the concept of ‘smart city’ on the rise, the transport infrastructure needs to utilize data sharing techniques for better sustainability. Telematics which ensures the union of remote communication and information processing is a technology that will prosper with time and change the face of the trucking industry. Delving into the basics of telematics and examining various ways in which it can be applied in the automotive industry can certainly ensure higher business efficiency.
Since the 1990s, the triad of GPS, cell phone technology and the Internet has altered the face of trucking. Telematics emerged as the means to link the automobile to satellite-based positioning technologies via wireless connectivity, enabling audio or visual data and securing a connection between drivers and the fleet management companies (Automotive Service Association, 2008). It is basically a technology that encompasses data processing and transmission over long distances by means of telecommunication devices and informatics. Similar to ITS in America and Japan, Europe has coined the term Advanced Transport Telematics Systems (ATTS), which is a total package of sensors, computers and communication used for increasing safety, reducing congestion and increasing energy efficiency (Quddus, 2013).
The three basic principles underlining telematics are:
In order to accommodate the principles mentioned above, a typical telematics system consists of three basic parts:
The Telematics Control Unit (TCU) incorporated within the vehicle facilitates the connection between the Electronic Control Units (ECUs) of the automobile and the GPS satellites over wireless networks. To enable processing of the data acquired from the TCU, a Telematics Network Operations System (TNOS) works as the main operating unit and also checks for faults, and performs configuration tasks. The interaction between TNOS and TCUs takes place via the Wireless Communication Infrastructure (WCI) which will be explained in detail in the next section (HUGHES Systique Corporation, ).
The TCU acts as a mini-computer that interprets and dissipates information received via the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus which connects different ECUs present inside the vehicle (Grabianowski, 2009). ECUs control the equipment’s subsystems and sensors, such as fuel, oil, fans, and engine. The collected data is transmitted through a standard wireless communication network comprising of code division multiple access (CDMA) and global system for mobile communication (GSM) (Said et al., 2016).