Telematics can improve vehicle efficiency and safety

Published: March 23, 2015 12:09:44 AM

The telecom companies have to gear up to offer a better quality of service for data services and M2M network solutions. The absence of a certified body for regulations of telematics industry is the biggest challenge faced by this sector

Vehicle telematics is an integrated use of mobile communication, vehicle monitoring systems and location technology. It is one of the fastest growing sectors in India for the past few years. Telematics is primarily driven by multi factors like increase in the number of accidents, rising vehicle thefts, security issues while travelling and the demand for navigation services etc.

Indian telematics market, which is on a growth path, offers high growth potential for the automobile industry. The integration of machine-to-machine (M2M) telematics applications can convert a normal vehicle into an intelligent version with special features such as an emergency warning, GPS navigation, integrated hands-free cell phones, wireless safety communications, automatic driving assistance systems supports, mitigating road accidents, tracking, Remote management, Bluetooth and other related features.

The growth of telematics in the auto sector has been witnessed in developing and developed countries, primarily in four types of service areas such as safety, information, navigation and remote diagnostics with special features such as emergency warning, GPS navigation, integrated hands-free cell phones, wireless safety communications and automatic driving assistance systems. Vehicle maintenance, the preventive route to car safety, is already being greatly enhanced. Remote diagnosis of the vehicle, data logging and also the need for technical and mechanical maintenance work can be tracked real time with the help to telematics.

Telematics also enables anti-theft features, tracking the location of the car and an automated interface with law enforcement agencies reduces the response time which eventually leads to reduction in vehicular theft numbers.

The automobile industry globally is integrating more and more telematics to monitor performance and detect any flaws in its vehicles and simultaneously meeting the demands of its users for wireless connectivity. According to a research by iSupply, the BRIC region has the fastest growing auto industry, in comparison to other western countries, and the percentage of vehicles embedded with telematics technology is expected to reach 46 % globally by the end of 2018.

It’s not only Asia that has a tremendous potential, as according to ABI research’s Consumer Survey report, telematics penetration in cars is expected to increase from 11.4% in 2012 to 60.1% in 2017. While penetration in the US and Western Europe will exceed 80% by 2017, developing regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe will also see strong increase in telematics penetration in new vehicles, mainly driven by mandates in Brazil and Russia. As per the latest technology trend IoT-enabled “connected car” turns the vehicle itself into a hub for an entire ecosystem of connected services that offers consumers a wealth of benefits including enhanced safety and security, a richer user experience and a new suite of M2M product offerings.

M2M devices today are much smaller, cheaper, more energy efficient as well as more sensitive and accurate. Though Indian telematics industry is still in its growing stages, it is estimated to reach $150 million over the next few years. Transportation companies in India have started to realise that telematics is not just about monitoring, but is also about achieving transparency in business processes and efficiency. The demand for telematics modules is primarily driven by commercial markets such as fleet management and passenger vehicle segment.

An innovative example of telematics in India is in the state of Kerala. She-Taxi service has been launched in collaboration with Maruti Suzuki and Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation to help women reach their desired destinations safely. She-Taxi has been designed and integrated with web-mobile based convergent technologies which will monitor and track the activities of the passenger as well as the cab driver.

She-Taxis are well equipped with several safety features which are a combination of both technology as well as general features. Safety alert switches for drivers near the seat, passenger safety alert switches at the back side, drivers safety systems on their mobile phone, safety alert receivers at control stations, GPS-based tracking system, controlling over speed, rash driving, sudden brake, sudden turn, remote engine off, theft protection are all an extension and part of telematics which are playing a role in making taxi services in India safer.

Vehicular tracking and fleet management application has captured a large portion of the total telematics market share in India. Connected fleets is the underlying trend for most vehicle-based applications that enable fleet operators and external stakeholders such as governments, insurance companies and financial service providers to manage vehicles, operations, risks and revenues along with taxes and insurance premiums.

The Connected Enterprise is emerging as a blueprint for corporate management, based on the vision that every asset and product should be directly linked to the enterprise network, feeding data in real-time to relevant IT-systems. Industry awareness about V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) is clearly gaining momentum. The ‘connected car’ is a typical application area where automobile manufacturers develop solutions enabling themselves and the driver to manage the vehicle and the driving experience through a range of applications.

A lot is being done in the area of intelligent transport systems in India where many initiatives are being taken by the government of India towards digitisation of vehicular information to improve driver and passenger safety, by utilising a combination of technologies. Telematics solutions can have valuable impact on road safety through driver risk assessment technology and driver ratings. Live alerts can be triggered in case of any breach of the safe driving practices. Monitoring driver fatigue can also be beneficial to optimally allocate jobs and preventing accidents. Road traffic safety is a global concern, not only for public health and injury prevention, but also for improving efficiencies in traffic management.

M2M growth estimates for the Indian are on an upswing but important is for the ecosystem to keep pace with the growth of M2M. Telematics solution providers need to arrive at a specific solution. The telecom companies have to gear up to offer a better quality of service for data services and M2M network solutions. The absence of a certified body or an agency for standardisation and regulations of telematics industry is the biggest challenge faced by this sector. Regardless of certain core challenges like adoption of technology, India has a massive potential to leverage telematics solutions for reaping social benefits towards road safety and also improvements in economic efficiency.

By Ashish Gulati

The writer is country manager, Telit India

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