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Real Time Vehicle/Fleet Tracking Systems

written by: Debasis Das•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 11/4/2009

Real time GPS tracking of vehicles, particularly fleets bring with it a lot of benefits that translate into business advantages and good customer service. You would be able to not only know where your vehicles are but if the vehicle is speeding, if the driver is reckless, etc.

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    Introduction

    If a GPS receiver is available on a vehicle, it’ll be able to provide data about the vehicle’s location at any time. If you add a communication system that sends this data to a central location, to be overlaid on map data, you can see how the vehicle is moving over time. If you have a third piece, a PC at your location that has a browser which can access that map based animation, you have a complete real time vehicle tracking system. These are really the main components one needs to provide the tracking service. Typical service providers supply you with the tracker device that contains the GPS receiver, arrange to create the moving display, and give you access to this service through the Internet.

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    Tracker Devices

    Tracker device 

    These are small GPS receivers that have very sensitive antennas to receive the GPS satellite signals. Usually these trackers would be placed in some unobtrusive place like the inside of the cab of a truck or in the back of a car below the rear deck, etc. Everything including the antenna is built into a small box that can be fitted into small spaces and still work effectively. One typical picture is shown. Commonly they’ll work on small batteries and usually you can forget about the device for a long time once it is fitted to the vehicle.

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    The Communications Subsystem

    When you are looking for a local or national coverage, the communication is usually through the mobile/cellular channels. For international coverage, the communication would be via satellites. For tracking a fleet of marine vehicles, including your personal boat, the communication will have to be through satellite, also. Some service providers would provide you two way communications so that you can talk to the person driving that vehicle. This will be a nice way to talk your teenage son/daughter out of a speeding binge, for example. Since the position updates you get could be 1, 5, or 10 seconds, the software at the service provider’s can easily calculate speed and show you that as a flag attached to the vehicle icon moving around on the map on your desktop.

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    Typical Features

    In Car Unit 

    If you can track one vehicle, you can track a fleet. So the real time vehicle tracking systems are an aid to your vehicle based business. Whether you operate a fleet of taxis, buses, or have shipping and transport operation, you could do with such a tracking service. Some such current service offerings are from S& L Services Inc, Geo Trackers, Spy Gadgets, GPS Fleet Solutions etc.

    Position data updates are every 1, 5, or 10 seconds. Vehicle location, speed, orientation, and even animated vehicle movement is displayed. All this on a map background that has added satellite imagery and even helicopter based imagery to let you see the exact location with enough details. These details include street, houses, and even trees. The whole thing is designed to improve efficiency, prevent misuse on personal trips, and increases employee accountability- besides saving you a lot on fuel costs. Customer service improves, too, as you are able to deliver in more predictable time frames.

    Typical Display 

    In the two way system, you’ll have a navigation device installed in the drivers cab or the dashboard of the car that has 4.3” or so GPS navigation display. Changing routing dynamically should not be a problem. You would be able to route vehicles as needed and it would be easy for the drivers to follow the new route too. If need be you can also talk him through the change in routing.

    Some standard online reports include start/stop reports that give you date, time, location and stop durations, aggressive driving, speeding reports, excessive idling, vehicle mileage etc. The service providers will email you these reports for your records, too. These reports can cover historical data and you can get up to 90 days historical data that you intend to track. Typical service charges are $1.33 per day per vehicle for 10 second update while it goes up to $1.67 for 5 seconds updates. It covers unlimited cellular and GPS services. There will a onetime investment on the tracker devices that is in the order of $450. Geo-fencing that raises an alert when the vehicle crosses a predefined boundary and Skype integration are other useful features.

    Images- trees