Sunday, October 30, 2011

What is Telematics?

tel·e·mat·ics  noun  /ˌteləˈmatiks/ The branch of information technology that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information.

‘Connected Vehicle Technology’ has been the subject of many recent headlines due to Ford’s unveiling of its new ‘connected car’ prototype technology.  At a demonstration held at the October 2011 World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems in Orlando, Florida, General Motors representative, Tom Brown, read a newspaper and waved to the watching crowd as his car drove itself around the parking lot.

BMW is now testing ConnectedRide, an intelligent transportation system that, for the first time, integrates motorcycles into a vehicle-to-vehicle communication network.  Both the Ford and BMW adaptive technology is intended to provide increased safety measures for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, through the use of advanced wi-fi, GPS, radar, sensors, cameras and lasers, which will share information with other vehicles, the surrounding infrastructure, and centralized computers.

Telematics within transportation is already in use for practical applications such as vehicle tracking and fleet management, satellite navigation, wireless vehicle safety communications, mobile data and mobile television, and cold store freight trailer monitoring.  With the new ‘Connected Vehicle Technology’ cars and motorcycles will be able to “talk” to one another, without relying on drivers.  Vehicles will sense another vehicle or pedestrian getting too close and then initiate collision avoidance warnings and maneuvers, as well as issue severe weather and uneven road surface alerts to warn drivers of impending hazards.  Vehicles will also receive real-time traffic data for traffic patterns and congestion, and construction work zones, allowing drivers to accordingly adjust their routes.
Automakers on a global level are jumping on board with Connected Vehicle Technology.  Ford’s intelligent vehicle technology has been in development for over ten years, and Toyota, BMW, Audi and Volvo have also introduced prototypes within the last three years.  However, for Connected Vehicle Technology to work on a nationwide or global scale, the vehicles must “talk” the same language. 

Analyses by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show Connected Vehicle Technology could potentially impact approximately eighty percent of vehicle crash types involving non-impaired drivers, according to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).  The USDOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is leading the effort to develop a working standard for integratable vehicular communications, which would ensure that vehicles produced by different manufacturers would have the capability to “talk” to not only one another, but also the surrounding infrastructure.

The Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Consortium (VIIC), a consortium of major global automakers, is also working to create globally harmonized standards.  According to the VIIC, globally harmonized standards will enable the automakers and other stakeholders to bring connected vehicle technologies to market more quickly and at a reduced cost for the consumer.

Connected Vehicle Technology in new cars is estimated to be available within the next five to ten years.