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Telematics: Types, Working, Applications and Benefits

  • Hrithik Saini
  • Dec 21, 2021
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Most individuals don't give much thought to the number of commercial cars and trucks. Many drivers consider them as large, heavy, slow-moving barriers to getting where they need to go. What people don't appreciate is how important technology is in moving those commercial cars safely and effectively.


Telematics is the name given to this technology. Most people's vocabulary does not include this phrase. In a nutshell, telematics is the technique and practice of transmitting, receiving, and analysing data via telecommunications. 


It also serves as the foundation for businesses to track their automobiles and other mobile assets. Let’s understand the concept of telematics in brief.


(Check out - AI Analytics)



What is Telematics?


Telematics, in its simplest definition, is the intersection of two sciences: telecommunications, a field of technology that includes phone lines and cables, and informatics, which includes computer systems. 


Today, the phrase is most typically used in telematics technologies used in commercial fleet cars. Wireless telematics systems and "black box" technology capture and communicate data on vehicle usage, maintenance needs, and automobile servicing. 


Fleet management software, a component of telematics, is a common alternative for modern businesses to synchronize the cars they manage and receive a full perspective of the health, revenue, and productivity of their whole fleet.


Types of Telematics Systems


A Telematics Control Unit (TCU) or a Telematics Gateway Unit (TGU) can be found in a vehicle's manufacture, depending on the functions that the system is supposed to perform.



Telematics Control Unit (TCU)


A TCU is built on a Microcontroller Hardware Platform. It is a limited, low-memory footprint system. In addition, it has a limited data throughput. It can only save offline data for a limited amount of time.


TCUs are capable of communicating through CAN and dual CAN. TCU's hardware circuitry is less sophisticated, hence it is utilised as a low-cost/entry-level telematics solution. TCU enables vehicle monitoring and management, as well as remote car diagnosis.



Telematics Gateway Unit (TGU)


At the heart of a Telematics Gateway Unit is a high-performance Application Processing Hardware Framework. When compared to a TCU, it has several advantages. 


This includes increased data bandwidth and the ability to retain data and information for a longer period of time. The TGU design, on the other hand, has a large memory and power footprint.


A TGU's extensive hardware architecture allows it to connect with numerous CAN networks and features an audio/video interface. It can also assist car ECU reprogramming, thus it's critical that the TGU adheres to ISO 26262 Functional Safety Standards and has a safeguard system in place.


(Take a look at - Compliance Testing)


Working of Telematics Systems

The image depicts the Working of Telematics Systems and has the following points :1. Vehicle tracking device logs location & vehicle diagnostic information.2. Data is transmitted via satellite or cellular networks.3. Verizon connects servers interpret data4. Vehicle tracking updates are displayed in real-time on the screen.

Working of Telematics Systems

A telematics system, at its core, consists of a vehicle tracking device mounted in a vehicle that permits the sending, receiving, and storage of telemetry data. It links to a SIM card through the vehicle's native onboard diagnostics (OBDII) or CAN-BUS connector, and an inbuilt modem allows communication over a wireless network.


The gadget captures GPS data as well as a variety of other vehicular data and transmits it to a centralised server through GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), 4G mobile data, cellular network, or satellite connection. The server analyses the data and displays it to end-users through secure websites and apps tailored for smartphones and tablets.


Location, speed, idling time, severe acceleration or deceleration, fuel economy, vehicle issues, and other information may be gathered via telematics. When evaluated for specific events and patterns, this data can give detailed insights across a whole fleet.


(Recommended blog - Types of Communication Technologies)


Is Telematics Costly?


It is determined by the fleet management solution. Simple GPS monitoring on a map is a low-cost alternative, but it delivers little useful information. 


Combining a completely integrated telematics system with other technologies like electronic logging devices (ELDs), dashcams, intelligent route planning, and enhanced driver supervision is more expensive upfront but gives a considerably larger ROI.


Enhanced fleet visibility allows for a better understanding of what a fleet has and how it is being used. With near real-time vehicle analytics supplied by the fleet monitoring system, configurable dashboards may make it simple to assess progress toward KPIs or budgets. 


In the long run, GPS fleet tracking may help identify hidden expenses while also providing opportunities for increased productivity and efficiency across an entire business, making it well worth the expenditure.



Telematics for Self-Driving Cars / Autonomous Vehicles


Although self-driving car technology is in its early phases, a vast worldwide market is keeping an eye on the latest self-driving vehicle developments. A significant amount of money has also been invested in creating technology that will power driverless or semi-autonomous automobiles.


One of the industry's most fervent hopes is that self-driving vehicles would drastically cut casualties and make roadways far safer. For autonomous cars to achieve this feat, it is critical that the supporting telematics systems be able to instantly gather vehicle and location information and use it to improve driving performance.


Applications of Telematics Technology


Many of us may have a similar question as to how I can make use of telematics systems in my car? Right? Well, telematics solutions may be integrated with current processes and devices to provide a wide range of use cases for fleets of various sizes, such as:


  1. Vehicle Tracking


GPS systems and receivers, GPRS connections, and cloud computing may all be used to track vehicles. A GPS receiver receives data from GPS satellites and analyses it for use in applications such as automobile GPS navigation structures. 


It also sends that data through GPRS to web applications used by office workers, where it may be utilised to deploy the nearest driver to a new assignment.


(Speaking of GPS, learn how Google Maps Work)


  1. Tracking Trailers and Quasi Assets


Fleets may attach GPS trackers on trailers and other non-motorized assets to guarantee they don't go missing, and they can also be used to direct drivers straight to static trailers. When unhitching a vehicle, drivers can mark areas on their GPS device. 


Those locations can be readily passed on, permitting them to route straight to the trailer. The system may also be configured to send an instant notification to a manager's smartphone if a trailer or equipment is moved without authorisation.


  1. Safety Tracking


Fleet telematics may be used by administrators to track the speed of the vehicle and location, as well as hard-driving incidents and safety belt use. 


Telematics creates a virtual blueprint of every element of a vehicle's functioning, assisting fleet management in determining where improvements in accident preventative measures and driver safety requirements may be implemented.


(Speaking of Fleet management, check out - IoT in Fleet management)


  1. Vehicle Maintenance and Product Lifecycle Monitoring


This may be enhanced by employing fleet telematics to analyze hours-of-use statistics and plan maintenance checks, as well as assist in keeping track of guarantee recovery, engine hour monitoring, and service records tracking. 


Maintaining a high level of engine diagnostics, such as battery voltage, transmission fluid, powertrain failures, intake valve difficulties, oxygen sensor problems, and more, may help fleet managers cut costs and maintain cars in good condition and safe.



  1. Insurance risk evaluation


Telematics can be used by insurance companies to supervise driver behaviour, permitting them to much more reliably predict risk factors and tweak premiums and deductibles accordingly. Telematics devices may also report whenever a vehicle is operated outside of a predefined region, known as a geofence.


Advantages of Telematics in Fleet Management


Telematics technology can assist fleets in achieving major operational advantages in the following areas:


Reduced Fuel Costs


Telematics may assist fleet managers in identifying areas of waste, such as vehicle idling or fuel leakage, and allowing them to resolve them quickly, which improves fuel economy and the bottom line. It can also assist management in planning the most effective route for each driver in order to save wasted mileage.


Improved Safety


Continuous input on driving style and behaviour allows fleet management to teach drivers and eliminate undesirable driving behaviours like speeding or hard braking. Based on relevant, data-driven reports that emphasise driver performance and effectiveness, new safety objectives, improvements may be implemented.


(Also read, Confidential Computing in Autonomous Vehicles)


Better Payroll Management


Fleet managers get an exact, automatic record of how long a worker worked by measuring the specific moment a vehicle begins at the outset of the day until the moment it shuts down. 


This allows business owners to ensure that employees get paid correctly for the work they did while also saving time wasted manually comparing timesheets to job entries.


Increased Productivity


By using GPS system information in a short period, drivers may better avoid traffic congestion and plan for severe weather. Back-office administrators may easily assign any new or extra site inspection to the nearest vehicle and direct them on the most effective route to take.



The Future of Telematics


As new applications are created to make use of contemporary GPS units and the ubiquitous usage of mobile devices, telematics is primed for exponential development. More fleets are understanding the importance of fleet activity monitoring in order to minimise expenses, promote productivity, enhance accountability, and ensure complete compliance with government requirements.


Telematics will become an intrinsic component of all contemporary fleet operations as owners seek beyond the fundamental necessities to achieve "growing integrations into the larger span of the company, such with mobile workforce management, ERP software, and business management software."

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