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A Brief History Of Telematics

Telematics was one of the first real IoT use cases before cellular communication was invented. It all started in 1978 when researchers began experimenting with sending information over long distances using satellites. This is a brief history of telematics.


What is Fleet Telematics?

Telematics is the technology of monitoring the wide range of information of an individual vehicle or an entire fleet.

It combines GPS navigation, safety, security, and communication into one technology installed in the vehicle's dashboard. In recent years, many firms managing fleets of large sectors have adopted telematics tech, improving reliability, increasing efficiency, and enhancing the bottom-line.

History of Telematics

The concept of fleet telematics was invented in 1974, before the invention of the first GPS.

In 1978, the term "Telematic technology" was introduced by Simon Nora and Alain Minc. They formed telematics technology to transfer information over long distances. To control and reduce road accidents due to high speed and reduce environmental impact, scientists started experiments and research on vehicle telematics.

By the end of 1985, EEC research programs launched ten satellites into space.

In 1988, the EEC established more research programs for further vehicle telematics experiments to improve safety quality.

By 1993, GPS technology had reached the consumer market. The public gained access to GPS technology and used it in commercial vehicles to map routes.

To aid the accuracy of GPS technology and to keep up with the popularity, researchers launched 24 satellites on Jan 17, 1994. This technology boosted the telematic fleet system.

Early fleet telematics was complicated. Companies had to enable each vehicle for telematics, which was very costly. Since the internet had become accessible in the '90s, fleet managers and drivers could share data and maintain records. In the late 1990s, the first vehicle tracking system was invented and installed in vehicles. This software could be accessed remotely— it processed, recorded, and saved each piece of data. Customers only had to pay a single update fee. The GPS had become an international utility.

In the early 2000s, web-based fleet management systems used telematics technologies to allow managers to access real-time information. The tracking rates were slow at that time, limiting the data transmission to one or two instances per hour. By the mid-2000s, however, the consumer market was flooded with GPS-based vehicle navigation systems. GPS navigation technology had advanced tracking systems.

After the GPS satellite launch in 2006, GPS technology had progressed and was commonly used in tracking systems. Cloud-based technology and machine-to-machine (M2M), which was the prototype for the Internet of Things (IoT), were introduced. The cloud drastically increased the accuracy and performance of GPS tracking systems.

In 2008, The Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) brought together the telematics providers and construction equipment manufacturers in the heavy equipment industry. A subcommittee was formed and developed the first telematics standard for the industry's development. The AEMP telematics data standard was released in 2010 to allow end-users to integrate critical telematics data—including operating hours, location, fuel consumption, and odometer—into their fleet management report systems. The main goal was to facilitate the importation of these data elements into enterprise software systems.

With the progress of GPS technology, mobile phones, tablets, and vehicular technology were also evolving. Mobile phones and tablets were now able to perform GPS navigation and tracking processes using applications. The dashboards of commercial vehicles held computerized systems with GPS technology. Drivers could communicate directly with their dispatchers and fleet managers by using web-connected technology. Even individuals working in the office could locate drivers and cargo long-distance using telematics. Managers were able to track trucks in real-time using high-resolution maps. Those maps were accessible from anywhere via cloud computing and were updated regularly.

>Other groundbreaking technologies were installed into cars at this time through the dashboard system. These technologies allowed for drivers to reverse without turning around (back-up cameras), play their music (USB connection), and make hands-free phone calls (Bluetooth technology). In the 2010s, the industry introduced new capabilities such as driver assistance features, route planning, and better navigation systems that delivered traffic warnings.

In 2014, the era of full connectivity began. Companies that utilized these connectivity technologies were able to track their drivers’ behavior and reduce their overall costs. Package delivery services and chain management companies started saving millions of gallons of fuel annually.

The use of commercially viable telematic strategies has become the key to business success in the modern era. Advanced M2M, GPS, and other sensor technologies involving big data, IoT, and cloud computing have become an essential part of commercial vehicle companies. Combining these technologies has changed the industry structure and even produced an entire business line from many existing operations. In other words, it has changed the face of competition.

In December 2015, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a ruling: it was now mandatory that all commercial vehicles maintain electronic logs instead of paper logs. Electronic logging devices would have to replace paper record-of-duty logs by Dec 16, 2017. This digital method could greatly improve fleet tracking.

Telematics aids in safety and lets fleet managers monitor their cargo and commercial vehicles. It also provides a secure geo-fencing zone. After combining telematics with other technologies such as routing, managers can determine how much fuel is being used by a truck and explore ways to improve fuel efficiency. Features like automated lighting, pedestrian crash avoidance, lane-departure warnings, automatic lane centering, collision avoidance, blind-spot detection, and connection to smartphones for navigation directions have started to make their way into many vehicles.

Today, fleet managers’ options in technologies include:

  • Cellular Tracking: Cellular tracking system uses cellular data to provide GPS service in real-time.
  • Satellite Tracking: This is perfect for those fleets that travel regularly, and cellular coverage is not available everywhere, so satellite tracking uses traditional GPS satellites to track vehicles. Satellite tracking is conducted in real-time.
  • Passive Tracking: Passive tracking provides periodic location updates rather than real-time monitoring. This tracking uses both satellite or cellular data.

Telematic technology has enabled managers to track, monitor, and check other vehicle details in real-time within seconds. Any fleet size can easily use telematics.

Future of Telematics

The consumer market is growing and suggests that telematics is expected to be integrated into 90% of new cars globally in the coming years.

There may be more data tracking and mobile capabilities, as well as a variety in monitoring tools and apps. In the next five years, telematics may be integrated with other technologies such as camera, radar, and LiDAR, with more sensors and AI to provide assistance. Driverless direction, complex turning, collision avoidance, and synchronized movements of grouped vehicles are also expected to be featured in many cars in the next five years. The rollout of dedicated 5G cellular channels for telematics is likely to happen in the next five years as well, increasing the internet speed and connection to telematics systems.

Researchers predict that the commercial vehicle telematics market will grow to USD 233.24 billion by 2022. Various governments worldwide have passed regulations to define drivers' working hours, fuel efficiency and consumption, and safety policies. In 2025, approximately 88% of all new cars globally will feature integrated telematics.

Technologies like GPS, big data, and IoT will continue to evolve in the coming years. So, we can expect to see far more from fleet telematics systems in the commercial vehicle industries.

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