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What is Telematics in a Car & How does Telematics Work?

Updated at 10 Dec, 2021

— Learn how telematics systems work & how they are used in cars. Discover the benefits of telematics in simple words & how it can optimize your fleet management.

What is Telematics in a Car & How does Telematics Work?

Have you ever come across the term "Telematics device?" or asked yourself "what is a telematics device?" It's a powerful tool that can make your job a whole lot easier, and you might even be using it without even realizing it. In fact, it's the foundation of modern fleet management!

So, what exactly is telematics? In technical terms, it refers to a system that leverages telecommunications and information technology to give practical information. But what does that mean?

Vehicle tracking is the most popular use of telematics for fleet management. By integrating a GPS monitoring system with internal diagnostics, you can determine your vehicles' precise location while following their speed in real-time.

It's a must-have tool for any contemporary fleet, with advanced tracking features and valuable vehicle data.

What is Telematics in Cars?

Have you ever wondered what telematics is in the context of a car? In simple words, telematics is a combination of telecommunications and informatics - a merger of technologies that includes phone lines, cables, and computer systems.

Today, telematics solutions are commonly used in commercial fleet vehicles. There are several benefits to using telematics for fleets worldwide, including improved vehicle maintenance and safety, time-saving, and cost-saving for businesses.

Wireless telematics devices and "black box" technologies are used to capture and send data on vehicle use, maintenance requirements, and service history to a single, dashboard-compatible device that combines communication, navigation, and security.

Fleet management software, a subset of telematics, is a popular choice for modern businesses as it allows them to coordinate the cars they manage and obtain a complete picture of the health, profitability, and productivity of their entire fleet.

Telematics systems collect vehicle data using various technologies, including GPS, sensors, and on-board diagnostic codes. This data includes real-time information such as vehicle location, driver behavior, and engine diagnostics.

List of elements found in telematics devices

The following elements are commonly seen in telematics systems:

What is Telematics in Simple Words?

Telematics is a really cool thing that helps us keep track of cars and other vehicles. It works by using special devices that are installed in the vehicles. These devices use GPS technology to tell us where the vehicle is and how fast it's going. They also use something called "on-board diagnostics" to tell us how the vehicle is running and when it needs to be fixed.

Visualization of telematics sending data to computer system

All of this information is sent to a special computer system that helps people who manage lots of cars, like a big company or a city, keep everything running smoothly and keep people safe on the roads. It's like having a secret superpower that helps us make everything better!

How does Telematics Work?

So, how does telematics work in fleet management? A telematics system typically consists of devices that are installed in fleet vehicles and used to collect, send, and store telemetry data. These devices use a SIM card to connect to a vehicle's onboard diagnostics system or CAN-BUS port. An onboard modem then transmits data through a wireless network.

The telematics device captures and stores tons of data points, such as GPS tracking data and vehicle-specific information, on a centralized server. This information can be transferred by GPRS, 4G/5G mobile data and cellular networks, or satellite connection.

The telematics device captures and stores tons of data points, such as GPS tracking data and vehicle-specific information, on a centralized server. This information can be transferred by GPRS, 4G/5G mobile data and cellular networks, or satellite connection.

The data is then processed by the server and displayed on a secure website accessible via PCs, tablets, or smartphones. An IoT company, such as AutoPi, often manages the data flow between the vehicle and the servers.

Location, speed, acceleration, braking, idle time, fuel consumption, engine health, and other data points can be collected via telematics devices. This data, when processed and assessed, may give extensive insights into your whole fleet, allowing you to make data-driven choices and enhance your operations.

List of information that can be captured by telematics devices

An automotive telematics solution typically consists of four building blocks:

an automotive telematics solution typically comprises a network of vehicle ECUs, a telematics control unit, a cloud-based IoT server, and telematics applications. These building blocks work together to collect and transmit vehicle data, which can be accessed and analyzed by authorized personnel to optimize fleet performance and reduce costs.

The four building blocks within a telematic solution>

  1. Network of vehicle ECUs: Inside the car, there is a network of interconnected automotive ECUs that function as miniature supercomputers. These ECUs assist the telematics unit in collecting vehicle data.

  2. Telematics Control Unit (TMU): The telematics control unit serves as the heart of the vehicle's telematics device. It communicates with the vehicle's CAN bus and the IoT cloud server. The TMU captures vehicle data and sends it to the IoT cloud over a cellular, LTE, or GPRS network. The TMU also handles the telematics devices' memory and battery and simplifies the data that is communicated with the driver via a gadget or dashboard.

  3. Cloud IoT server: The data collected by the telematics device is transmitted to the cloud-based telematics server over a secure GPRS or cellular network. The data is extracted and stored in databases for processing on the IoT cloud platform.

  4. Telematics applications: Authorized personnel can access data from the cloud-based telematics server through web, desktop, or mobile applications connected to the IoT ecosystem. This information can also be integrated into a business intelligence system for additional analysis and reporting.

Top Benefits of Telematics in Fleet Management

Telematics solutions offer a wide range of benefits for businesses looking to optimize their fleet management. By incorporating telematics devices and systems into their operations, businesses can improve safety, reduce costs, and gain a competitive edge. With the ability to track assets, monitor safety, manage maintenance, and leverage IoT and CAN data, telematics is a powerful tool for businesses looking to optimize their operations and increase efficiency. Here are some specific examples businesses can benefit from telematics:

Asset tracking: Installing GPS trackers on vehicles allows businesses to keep track of their vehicles whereabouts in real-time. With the ability to program the system to notify you whenever a vehicle reach its designated location, or when it enters or departs a specified virtual boundary, allow businesses to optimize their operations.

Safety tracking: Telematics systems can keep tracking of a car or truck's speed and position, identify unsafe driving habits, and verify that drivers are wearing seat belts. By reducing the number of accidents, businesses can improve safety and reduce insurance costs.

Maintenance: Telematics systems can help manage vehicle maintenance and asset life cycles. By keeping track of hours-of-use records, vehicle usage, engine hours, and service records, businesses can plan preventative maintenance and track warranty recovery. Tracking engine diagnostics can also help identifying maintenance needs and reduce downtime, which ultimately reduces costs.

IoT and CAN data: Telematics devices collect and transmit data from a variety of sources, including IoT and CAN data. This data includes information on fuel consumption, engine performance, and vehicle utilization. By leveraging this data, businesses can optimize their operations and reduce costs. For example, by monitoring fuel consumption, businesses can identify areas where they can reduce fuel waste and save money.

The Evolution of Telematics and How it Started

The history of telematics dates back to the 1960s, when the military first created the technology to enhance communication on the battlefield. Over time, advancements in internet, GPS, and machine-to-machine communication led to the development of modern telematics solutions.

In the early 2000s, as the internet and telecommunications networks grew, so did the number of fleet management telematics applications. Today, the telematics market is valued to a two-digit billion dollar industry and is expected to continue growing.

The widespread adoption of telematics solutions can be attributed to several factors, which we already discussed previously. Moreover, the proliferation of connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) has created new opportunities for telematics applications.

As the telematics market continues to evolve, you can expect to see even more advanced features and functionalities. For instance, the integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence could enable more predictive and proactive maintenance, reducing costs and improving efficiency. Furthermore, the use of big data analytics could enable businesses to gain even deeper insights into their fleet operations, leading to a better decision-making and improved business outcomes.

If you find this information on telematics devices interesting and would like to learn more about how it can benefit your business, please don't hesitate to contact us. - Eriks Petersons

Article by

Eriks Petersons

Software Developer

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