Telematics blog

Role of Telematics in Autonomous Vehicles

Telematics in the automotive industry is the use of electronics to collect vehicle data, for instance the average speed of the driver, whether the seat belt was on, the last time the engine oil was changed, etc. This information is then processed and used by insurance companies to judge the driver’s liability based on driving pattern, and also by car manufacturers to identify faults and improve technology.

A debate brewing among automotive enthusiasts and engineers is with the slow rise in autonomous vehicles, with the driver removed out of the equation, will telematics become redundant?

The answer it seems is the opposite. Telematics will play an even bigger role with the autonomous vehicle. Monitoring how the autonomous car is performing will be important in perfecting underlying technology. This information will be expected from telematics providers.

Telematics in Autonomous Transportation

An important aspect is knowing the location and condition of an autonomous vehicle, and telematics has a crucial role in this data management. In fact, ‘telematics and fleet management solutions’ are already revolutionizing the transport industry with autonomous trucks.

An autonomous vehicle is classified from Level 0 to Level 5, 0 being a truck with no automation and 5 being a completely driverless vehicle. Level 1 trucks are already in use today, with cruise control and braking assist. What’s more important however is the location of the transport vehicle which makes data management possible, by giving the company an estimation of time for delivery. This information is provided by telematics.

As vehicles move towards level 3, where a driver can take his hand off the steering wheel, the dependency on telematics will increase. Vehicle speed, health, weather and road conditions, location etc will need to be constantly monitored to ensure safety and efficiency. Finally, for fleets to move synchronously autonomous vehicles will have to transmit their whereabouts and sync with the leading vehicle, which will happen through telematics.

The Safety Factor

The greatest hurdle autonomous cars face today is safety. Passengers are yet to feel comfortable sitting in a car that has no driver. As manufacturers upgrade from semi-autonomous cars that are already in production to fully autonomous cars, they will have to monitor these vehicles in real-time. This means constant transmission of large amounts of data, which means telematics.

Future telematics systems will be expected to utilise wireless or cellular network to transmit its location and health to monitoring teams. With information about all the electronic systems on board manufacturers can decide when an autonomous vehicle needs a service, and when it is likely to breakdown.

On-board emergency and accident detection systems will play a vital role in protecting human lives. The first step of course is to monitor and prevent a malfunction but in the event of an accident, an autonomous car can be designed to send distress signals to emergency response teams that could save precious time.

So, Telematics is here to Stay?

Volvo has ambitiously targeted 2017 as the release year for their autonomous vehicle, while other manufacturers say it could happen well after 2022. Whatever the case, vehicle data management will be crucial towards safety and efficiency and telematics providers will be key players.