Commercial and government fleets are rolling out technology for professional drivers which eventually will make their way into everyone’s car and trucks — like vehicle health assessments, collision detection and notification, plus constant driver and vehicle monitoring, to verify the driver isn’t distracted or impaired.
“The industry is changing and shifting,” said Sherry Calkins, vice president of Connected Car and Platform Solutions for Geotab, Inc. “Most vehicles are connected today.”
Geotab, based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, uses data from commercial fleets connected to the Internet, plus data analytics and machine learning, to help fleet customers improve productivity, reduce fuel consumption, enhance driver safety, and comply with regulations, such as rules governing how many continuous hours long-haul drivers can stay in service without a mandatory break.
Potentially, uses could apply to both commercial fleets and privately owned vehicles, such as “coaching” driving habits, like reducing sudden braking and hard acceleration, to achieve greater fuel efficiency for internal-combustion powertrains, or longer battery range for electric vehicles.
Geotab already gets data from a total of around 2.8 million fleet vehicles and growing, made by 20-plus different manufacturers, Calkins said.
For example, Geotab recently announced that for its client General Motors, Geotab streamlined what can be a cumbersome purchasing process for government fleets. That makes it easier for government customers to purchase Geotab services for their GM-branded fleet vehicles, including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands.
Geotab’s telematics device continuously monitors vehicle data, but it sends only “relevant” data to the cloud for possible further analysis. “We record, essentially, a change,” Calkins said. “If there’s a turn signal, if there’s braking, if there’s hard braking, that’s a delta, a change,” she said.
The technology may have nothing to report most of the time, such as, “when you’re driving down the highway at 55 mph, not braking,” Calkins said.
In a pilot program where data was used to explore ways to reduce speeding, she said drivers reduced speeding by 90%. Besides reducing speeding tickets, a slower average fleet speed also saved costs by reducing fuel consumption, Calkins said.
A complicating factor is that different auto manufacturers, and even sometimes different model lines from the same manufacturer, don’t report data the same way, with the same frequency, and definitions vary, for instance, for what constitutes “hard” braking, she said.
Companies in the data-analysis space are hoping someday for more universal standards for data and data reporting, Calkins said. “To deliver score cards that are normalized across the work force,” she said, “it’s really hard to monitor everybody in an equal fashion.”