Believe the hype
Connected fleet will give managers optimum vehicle control and understanding
Connected eet will give managers optimum vehicle control and understanding
Autonomous vehicles seem to be all the rage of late – from flash cars through to intelligent heavy vehicles.
A number of universities, manufacturers and technology vendors are racing to be in pole position with this new technology.
Tesla expects its autonomous vehicles to be on the road in the next two years, Ford has said fi ve, and there are now autonomous buses roaming the roads in Perth. But what does an autonomous vehicle mean for fl eet managers?
In reality, we are long before the point where we have autonomous trucks on our highways. They still need to be commercially viable, regulations still need to be put into place to ensure safety, and infrastructure will need to be updated to support the transition, amongst other things.
Before we get autonomous fleets, there is another step in the evolution of the fl eet vehicle and one that needs to be taken today if your business is to successfully prepare for the autonomous future. Enter ‘ the connected vehicle’, which is growing at 10 times the rate of the overall market.
What is a connected vehicle and how does it all relate to trucks and fleet management? The term relates specifically to how data is collected from a vehicle and shared with other devices.
The technology is often supported by a telematics platform, where data can be managed and applications can be developed to deliver a range of benefits to the driver.
The concept of the connected vehicle won’t be new to those reading this; it has been around for some time in the form of fleet management.
The black box, installed in the vehicle after sale, which collects information about the vehicle (position, mileage etc.) and often directly from the vehicle’s on-board computer system, is nothing new but the level of sophistication available today and what we will see in the coming years will be a game changer for fl eet managers.
Although many of the new innovations may seem a long way off, at TomTom Telematics we have already seen a number of new applications developed and integrated into the telematics platform, utilising the data it provides.
TIME IS MONEY
Operating large trucking or heavy goods fleets can be costly when time is lost on the road. One wrong turn or driving straight into a traffic jam not only increases labour costs but also fuel consumption, maintenance costs and administration costs associated with missing delivery timeslots.
The connected truck can help to reduce these costs significantly and can do so today. By preloading access restrictions, including dimensions, weight and hazardous materials of each individual trip and load, the connected vehicle will enable drivers to avoid bridges, small streets, sharp turns, U-turns and restricted roads as much as possible, ensuring a smoother journey as well as helping keep drivers and cargo safe by avoiding potentially risky routes.
As the ‘internet of things’ trend matures, it will take this even further, particularly when integrated into street-side infrastructure.
Fed up of shift work and waiting at a red light at 2am when there are absolutely no cars or people around? That’s soon to be a thing of the past as trucks will be able to communicate directly with transport infrastructure. Instead of having to stop, the connected truck could communicate with the traffic light and let it know when to change.
Similarly, sophisticated algorithms could use speed, route and lane data to instruct vehicles to manoeuvre in the right way to help maximise traffic flow, improve travel times and facilitate reduced fuel consumption. That’s excellent news for managers and drivers alike, improving efficiency and reducing the bottom line price of running a fl eet of vehicles.
So, not only will connected vehicles help drivers get from A to B as effi ciently as possible using the best routes, they will also significantly change the way drivers interact with the road.
We’re not necessarily virtualising the trucks themselves and putting them in the cloud, but everything the driver needs or will
“Data can be managed and applications can be developed to deliver a range of benets to the driver”
Opposite top: Drivers will be able to select and set pretty much everything in the cabin – from driving mode, mirrors, seat position and infotainment – by voice or touch of a screen or button
Above and below: Not here yet, but only a matter of time when fully autonomous trucks rule the road