The Telematics Blog
Driverless Cars: Are They the Future?
Are you familiar with the phrase the "Internet of Things" (also called the IoT)? If not, you should make yourself familiar with it, as it is the way of the future. In fact, it is the way of the modern world, and studies say that most homes already have from three to five IoT devices at work.
What are they? They are objects that are Internet connected. They can include gaming systems, children's toys, smartwatches, household appliances, and so much more. There are also Internet connected vehicles too, and they rely on telematics to function fully.
Telematics is, as one journalist described:
…the blending of computer and wireless telecommunications technologies, ostensibly with the goal of efficiently conveying information over vast networks to improve a host of business functions or government-related public services.
Auto industry experts predict that more than 85% of new vehicles will have telematics within them by the year 2025, and many say that this paves the way for driverless cars. This is because modern telematics already deliver a huge range of data in real-time, and this information might easily make it possible for someone to navigate or control a car with great safety and accuracy from a remote location.
Even more intriguing is the fact that so many vehicles are produced with an array of sensors and data systems, that they could, reasonably, begin driving themselves thanks to the interconnectivity that telematics and IoT software provides.
In fact, this is what is already at work in some of the first, experimental driverless cars. Just consider:
The electric Nissan LEAF uses cameras, laser scanners and radar to keep a safe distance from other vehicles and identify traffic lights, road signs and pedestrians…Volvo Trucks and Scania have been leading the vanguard for ‘platooning’ in Europe where a line of semi-autonomous vehicles follow a lead truck, automatically maintaining the same speed and (short) distance between one another. Not only does this free up more road space to other vehicles, it also produces less air drag which may mean lower fuel bills and CO2 emissions (up to 20% according to Volvo Trucks).
Sending data in real-time, vehicles may be able to communicate with a server that collects all of the data from other vehicles on the road, enabling the main server to operate like a human air traffic controller! The IoT already operates on the premise that devices within a single network can begin to interact with one another, and that "machine learning" can begin to understand ideal operating behaviours.
When these technologies are finally rolled together, it would make it entirely possible for a network of interconnected vehicles, loaded with sensors and software, to work together to travel effectively and efficiently along a specified trajectory. It is the logic behind driverless public transportation systems also currently under development in all areas of the world.
Individual vehicles may be a bit more complex, but as we have seen, they are already being designed. The Nissan Leaf, as a prime illustration of this, will be a vehicle that uses existing tech to operate autonomously. Eventually, a drive can input their destination into vehicle, the device then sends this request (along with the vehicle data, location, fuel, weight, and so on) to the server. The server assesses the request, charts the ideal route, and is given control of the vehicle. This server would be able to know the right travel speed, whether any traffic was nearby or approaching, and effectively manage all of the vehicles in the system.
This sounds like a fantastically safe way to control traffic, but as yet it is still a bit in the future. What we can expect in our current area, however, is nothing to sniff about. Consider how you can use something like fleet telematics to improve the performance of your fleet vehicles and make them more efficient and even safer.
Data Means Safer Driving
Consider this quote from one fleet safety website:
The premise of a more skilful driver being a safer driver is one well known to fleet managers. With frequent driver training courses and an increase in telematics and tracking, fleet managers and companies are investing in driver safety.
What they mean is that current features in fleet telematics provide the kind of invaluable data necessary to assess driver performance and then offer targeted and customised training solutions. However, the widespread availability of gamification options ensures that many training experiences or even re-training initiatives take on the nature of gentle competition or games.
For instance, instead of using the threat of punishment for drivers operating vehicles less efficiently or appropriately, the fleet telematics systems available can allow the drivers to use in-vehicle screens that offer immediate feedback if an unwanted behaviour occurs. They might be able to use an app to get daily or weekly stats, and even see themselves on a leader board for meeting specific goals.
Though nothing like self-driving, this technology is self-training and it uses alternative forms of motivation to get optimal driving habits firmly in place.
Data Means Safety
Until we can rely on servers and software taking real-time data and making the best driving decisions with it, we have to trust in our fellow drivers to do it. This is not always ideal, and yet fleet telematics can help in several ways. We just learned about in-vehicle systems that might alert drivers to unsafe or unwanted behaviours - from heavy acceleration and braking to dangerous speeds and unsafe distances, this sort of on-board alert can reduce the risks of accident while also making the fleet safer.
There is also the benefit of lower insurance premiums too. While insurance may go the way of the famous Dodo bird when driverless vehicles finally do appear, we still require it today. Some insurance firms are working with fleets and private drivers to use fleet telematics as a means of identifying premium drivers.
Devices might track everything from safe driving speeds and distances to the amount of time vehicles are used. With the performance data, insurance firms can then assess individual drivers and reward them with lower premiums for optimised driving patterns.
Data Leads to Understanding
Telematics is a way for a fleet manager or owner to better understand their drivers. This is exactly how the information is going to help nurture the driverless car industry in the future. For example, if we accept that software within cars, such as fleet telematics software, allows a car manufacturer to interact with the driver, understanding what is needed and what can be offered, it will also enable manufacturers to design the most appropriate controls or self-driving systems.
In fact, manufacturers are already aware of the need for HMI or human-machine interfaces, and telematics is really leading the charge toward far more intuitive and effective designs. At Telematics Pro UK Ltd., we work with our clients to create fleet telematics solutions, and often this includes the use of different HMI systems.
For example, part of our driving training offerings includes the use of screens that give immediate feedback, relating to a driver when they have used a manoeuvre that is unsafe or unwanted by their employer.
Today, as one report indicates:
Drivers have the power to correct their behaviour in real time, but maps which provide metre-by-metre, hour-by-hour, day-by-day accuracy would allow behavioural monitoring systems to become even more intuitive, to the point where the braking system could react automatically if it detects a driver is going too fast on a given section of road.
Consider what this means to the driverless cars of the future. And yet, many of these technologies are at hand today. Connected vehicles are a real thing, and any firm with a fleet of vehicles can turn to fleet telematics to deliver immense loads of real-time data about individual vehicles or the entire fleet. Collecting the data and analysing it can support a number of key business goals or initiatives.
Naturally, it means that proper analysis is a crucial part of the process. This is where Telematics Pro UK Ltd. can help. We are a firm specialising in fleet telematics solutions, and whether you have ten vehicles or thousands, our advanced systems can help you motivate drivers to self-train around unsafe or unfavourable behaviours, cut operating costs, go as green as possible, and so much more.
We meet with you to discuss your needs and to develop a truly customised solution. We assess your fleet's driving patterns and the conditions of the vehicles. We help you implement a variety of solutions that can include online training, in-person courses, or advanced systems implemented with our partners.
Into the Future
We have been considering if driverless cars are the way of the future. Most experts would answer "yes" and then go on to say that it will be through telematics that a lot of the proverbial "heavy lifting" will be done. Using real-time data and advanced systems, telematics has already revolutionised fleet management. The information it manages will only further the evolution of driverless cars, but you don't have to wait for such benefits.
Telematics Pro UK Ltd. offers companies of all sizes an end to end fleet telematics package. We deliver the tools you will need to make your fleet as modernised, streamlined and efficient as possible.
With our customised solutions, we can identify relevant performance data, analyse areas of weakness or underperformance, and use the information to keep the entire fleet in top condition. With modern systems and solution, we ensure that your outcomes will help you meet your goals today and into (possibly driverless) future. If you are ready to discuss your needs for fleet telematics, or simply to learn more about our offerings, get in touch today.