What Potential Does Telematics Technology Hold for the Future?

Telematics enables an operator to communicate with a remote object and its operator.

One of its most common applications is communicating with vehicles in motion. From a remote location (office or terminal), it’s possible to read vehicle locations, speeds, accelerations, control inputs and more.

This technology has obvious potential for autonomous vehicles and fleet management. Those have probably been its most extensive applications to date.

Here, we’ll explore and discuss other possible uses of vehicle telematics. What new possibilities does the technology promise for the future? What emerging areas do telematics systems cover?

Vehicles Operating on Unstable or Slippery Surfaces or in Other Unique Conditions

Applying telematics in vehicles driving on muddy or icy/snowy roads could present a challenge. Often these conditions require only the gentlest control inputs. A skillful human driver feels what the car is doing. Some of what they are feeling can no doubt be measured and used to command autonomous control responses. The greater challenge is in anticipating conditions ahead. These could be deeper snow, “black ice,” or muddy patches.

Heavy Off-Road Hauler on a Construction Site - photo credit Troy Mortier on unsplash

Those conditions are rare with individual autos and perhaps don’t represent an extensive market for telematics.

Perhaps a more worthwhile application is in fleets of off-road haulers on construction projects. These huge trucks sometimes operate over significant distances and must navigate varying conditions.

This situation has particular potential for the vehicles to be operated autonomously because the vehicles operate off public roads and don’t encounter non-project-related traffic. The potential for liability in a mishap is much less than in the case of vehicles operated on public roads.

Rental Fleets

Rental agencies traditionally had little ability to ascertain how their vehicles were used and abused.

With telematics and fleet management systems, they can gain information on their vehicles’ operation. They can monitor speeds, acceleration, braking and proximity to other vehicles. This gives them the ability to assess the driver’s driving style, how they’re treating the vehicle, and how accident-prone they are.

This also can be a marketing tool. Renters can be advised that their rental charges will be adjusted according to how they operate the vehicle. Knowing that, they are likely to operate the vehicle more conservatively from a safety point of view and avoid abusing the vehicle.

Insurers of autos and other vehicles are already using this concept. In the insurance world, it’s known as UBI (Usage-Based Insurance). If you operate the vehicle more thoughtfully, you avoid dangerous situations, and your insurance premiums reflect that.

Until UBI came along, insurance companies couldn’t tell what sort of driver they were insuring unless they got into accidents. They didn’t know about how many potentially dangerous situations you experienced or caused but escaped.

The concept could be further extended to monitor vehicles operated by hired drivers. Safer drivers and those avoiding abuse of their vehicles would receive bonuses. A driver who operates more conservatively uses less fuel, brakes, tires, etc. The resulting cost savings can be passed on to the better drivers.

If you have trucks like the one in the picture, a careful driver can effect significant savings in their operation.

Large Truck on a Highway - photo credit Rhys Moult

Car Subscription Service

Since 2010, a number of manufacturers and dealers (and recently some others) have started offering vehicle subscription services.

These arrangements function much like longer-term leases but have more flexibility. They often include insurance and maintenance and they allow the lessee to change vehicles as frequently as monthly or sometimes even more often. They may be limited to a specific geographic area.

The target market for subscription services is people who want to use a vehicle without any of the traditional complications of ownership or classic leasing arrangements, and who are willing to pay for that convenience.

Since the lessor retains ownership of the vehicle and suffers the result of any misuse. It’s in their interest to know as much as they can about how the vehicle is being used and maintained. With telematics devices and sensors installed in the vehicle, they can achieve this. They may adjust their charges according to the information they learn.

Predictive Maintenance

When a vehicle is developing an issue that will require maintenance, it may not be immediately apparent to the driver or anyone seeing its operating data.

By applying artificial intelligence to data provided by sensors installed in critical locations, it’s often possible to identify maintenance needs before a component fails. This early warning saves repair costs and time.

Telematics Can Provide More Data than Users are Analyzing

Many telematics users could make better use of the data that’s available to them than they do. Truck fleet operators may use it only for drivers’ logs, tachographs, and recording unusual events, such as heavy braking, impact with another object, etc.

To realize the benefits we discussed above, fleet operators could employ more data than many of them do. The possibilities are limited only by the operator’s imagination and the amount of analytical horsepower they’re willing to commit. Of course, in the case of large fleets of hundreds of thousands of vehicles, analyzing full-time data streams from each vehicle could multiply their required capacity by orders of magnitude. A cost-benefit analysis would determine how far they want to go with this concept.

Inventure Automotive has the capacity to provide as much data as a user needs or wants. Companies using telematics data can avail themselves of as much data as they are willing to assimilate.

Systems are available that can monitor a driver’s behavior and reactions and even allow immediate messaging to the driver. Utilizing that capability could have morale repercussions if it’s over-used. Micro-management is a slippery slope better avoided from a leadership perspective.

The development of the 5G data transmission network is a huge boon to this aspect of telematics. With the volumes of data generated, and the need to access it in real time, rapid transmission is vital. So the buildout of this network is an important piece of what will enable new applications of telematics technology.

Combination Truck With Separate Sensor/Transmitters on Each Unit - credit Inventure Automotive

Broader Availability of Telematics Data

Information produced by telematics can be useful to a broad range of interested parties. Here’s a list of some of those parties:

● Owners

● Operators

● Lessors

● Lessees

● Insurance carriers

● Maintenance contractors

How the vehicle is being used, how much it’s being used, how efficiently it’s functioning, and potential maintenance issues are of interest to subsets of this list.

Telematics is a technology still in its early stage. This blog post suggests that science fiction has predicted some of its evolution to this point. Sci-fi writers are often prescient in their offerings. Many times they’ve almost exactly depicted some technology or equipment that has shown up on the market a few years later.

Do you have an idea for some unique application you’d like to discuss with the experts at Inventure Automotive? Click the link to see what this innovative company is about and explore possibilities for your needs.

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