Very Large Array, Socorro, New Mexico
More specifically, what is vehicle telematics?
Telematics, in its most basic sense, is the combination of wireless telecommunications and information technology. In other words, it is the sharing of information via a wireless communications channel. Vehicle telematics means that at one end of the communications channel is a vehicle. Global Positioning System (GPS) Navigation systems are just one example of vehicle telematics. Many of the early generation telematics systems were one-way communications systems – such as vehicle navigation systems where the vehicle received location information from a navigation tracking system. The vehicle, however, did not send any information back up the communications link. Over time, these systems developed into two-way communications systems – the vehicle could now communicate with the mother ship. Business fleets could use the technology to track the whereabouts of their vehicles. For instance, refrigerated vehicles movements could be monitored more closely to ensure safe food delivery parameters were adhered to.
With the increasing sophistication of a vehicles on-board computing power, it was only a matter of time before large amounts of vehicle data could be shared back up the stream. Vehicle data shared upstream can consist of vehicle location, vehicle speed, and virtually any vehicle information that makes its way through the on-board communications channels (or controller area network bus – CAN-bus).
One of the most widely known systems is General Motor’s OnStar system, due to the General’s heavy advertising for their system. Other domestic systems include Ford’s Microsoft driven SYNC and Chrysler’s Uconnect. Of the Japanese manufacturers, Honda offers AcuraLink on its upscale Acura products, and Toyota makes Lexus Enform available on their upscale brand. Which brings us to CARWINGS – Nissan’s on-board telematics system used in the Nissan LEAF. In upcoming posts we’ll take a look at some of these systems. (Thanks to reader Jeff Cusick for prompting this series of articles.)