Truck fleet managers face daily challenges that influence the productivity and efficiency of the entire fleet— these challenges range from fuel and vehicle management, tracking, reporting, etc. According to the Entrepreneur, a recent survey of fleet managers made in the USA and Europe found that 66% of these fleet managers are not happy with their current fuel costs.
Vehicle telematics started as a way to automate many of these fleet management tasks and allow remote monitoring, including reporting, tracking, route optimization, vehicle maintenance, and more. When video technology was integrated into the telematics equation, a whole new level of monitoring and management was unlocked.
Now, video telematics can help the entire truck fleet management with vehicle tracking, driver behavior monitoring, and even evidence collector for any unfortunate event.
In this article, we will review everything about video telematics, a brief background within the fleet management industry, how it works, and five common problems for truck fleets, that the technology is solving.
What is Video Telematics?
Video telematics is more than just a vehicle CCTV system. It is the combination of different areas in technology including, Video + Telecommunications + Informatics + other vehicular technologies, such as sensors, road transport, road safety, and more. One of the most popular applications for video telematics is fleet management.
A Brief Background
Telematics (Telecommunications + Informatics) is an old technological term that defined how to move information over mobile telecommunications. It was quickly adopted by the vehicle industry.
The concept evolved to Vehicle Telematics, which included services such as GPS navigation and tracking, wireless safety communications, automatic driving assistance, and more. The vehicle industry started to deploy telematics in field vehicles such as emergency and first response, service trucks, public transportation, and more. Thanks to vehicle telematics, fleet management evolved quickly.
But there was also a challenge.
Traditionally, telematics could only send and receive bits of information. The mobile wireless broadband network couldn’t cover the needs required for sending large data sets like vehicle data or real-time video. And it was also difficult to act on real-times and at fast-moving vehicles.
Today, however, thanks to the high-speed accessible 4G/LTE mobile wireless communications, telematics evolved to Video Telematics.
The breadth of information that can be collected, not only from the vehicle, but also from the external environment, and even the driver, it’s incredible. Now fleet managers can sit down and remotely track vehicles, improve fuel efficiency, assist drivers, provide alternate routes, protect their assets, and more.
But that’s not all.
Now, video data (from smart cameras) and vehicle data (from IoT sensors) can be aggregated and sent over the LTE high-speed network to a fleet data center where AI or computer vision algorithms can be applied. How is Artificial Intelligence affecting transportation? Check our Five Examples of AI in the transportation industry.
How do Video Telematics Work?
Video Telematics rely on different components to be able to gather and send data.
When the system needs to gather data, it uses a series of cameras and sensors that can be installed throughout the vehicle. These devices collect data from the vehicle’s mechanical components and external environment and send it to an in-vehicle gateway. This gateway is the key to video telematics because it acts as an NVR (Network Video Recorder) and a telecommunications platform. A good example of this device is Lanner’s V3S.
Video Telematics Systems uses a variety of components, including:
- GPS and Mobile Tracking systems.
- The Fleet Vehicle Camera System.
- Engine Control Unit (ECU).
- Communication Systems.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Vision.
- Fleet Management Center.
Video Telematics Systems Components:
GPS and Mobile Tracking systems
GPS has been the leading technology when it comes to tracking and navigation. But today, fleet management can go beyond simple GPS and rely on other communication technologies to provide more precise and fast-tracking services. Mobile wireless broadband networks like 4G and 5G can locate the vehicle at any point in time and regardless of speed. And of course, GPS can also serve as a secondary and redundant tracking system, to help where mobile wireless does not provide coverage.
A geofence can be set to provide geographical boundaries to the vehicle. When the truck crosses those geofences, an alarm is sent to the fleet management center.
The Fleet Vehicle Camera System
Capturing high-resolution video and audio, inside and outside the vehicle, is essential to the video telematics system. There are a variety of video cameras that can be installed throughout the truck, from rear-view, side-view, front-view, road-facing, driver-facing, and dash cameras. Other video devices might also include an in-vehicle monitor, a DVR (Digital Video Recorder), and a microphone.
The fleet camera system can capture the events on the road and the behavior of the driver. It can give you a clear picture of what happened during an accident, or what is currently happening in real-time.
Engine Control Unit (ECU)
The ECU (or Engine Control Module) system reads data generated by the vehicle from multiple sensors and controls various actuators across the vehicle. The data gathered from these sensors and vehicle diagnostics systems can be extremely helpful in-vehicle telematics. Metrics such as speed, odometer, brake usage, tire air pressure, engine oil pressure, engine temperature, etc., can be sent and utilized by the fleet management center.
There are two primary communication systems required by video telematics, the Vehicle Area Network (VAN), and the built-in LTE wireless module. All components such as cameras, IoT sensors, vehicle diagnostics center, and monitors within the vehicle make up a VAN. These components can communicate with each other and remote networks through an in-vehicle gateway, such as Lanner’s V3S through Wifi, Bluetooth, or Ethernet.
The IoT gateway can provide connectivity to the Internet or remote private data centers through the built-in LTE module. LTE technology allows reliable connectivity at high-speeds on highways and usually throughout remote areas.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Vision
Video telematics systems might include simple onboard Artificial Intelligence (AI). Having intelligence at the edge provides faster video analysis and feedback, without having to send data to a remote data center). If there is a blockage or person ahead on the road or the driving behavior seems risky, the AI and Machine Vision software can provide real-time feedback to the driver and the fleet management center.
Most of today’s autonomous vehicles use a forward-facing camera and the AI-empowered ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance) to warn the driver and quickly send the video to the center when a risky event is undergoing.
Fleet Management Center
The fleet management center may receive raw data or pre-processed data from the vehicles. The center may have sophisticated AI algorithms running on the data as it comes by, expecting to find insights. The fleet managers can also have access to real-time video from the fleet.
Five Problems That Video Telematics Can Solve for Truck Fleets
Video Telematics can solve many problems and help overcome common challenges. These problems include:
Avoid Excessive Litigation Fees
From an ROI perspective, video telematics can help exonerate a truck fleet in court after an accident and avoid excessive litigation fees.
Video is the best proof for evidence in any unfortunate event. The video telematics system records the driver’s behavior and the truck at all times. The video footage is usually saved in the vehicle into a small hard drive enclosed in a hardened black box. Video can also be sent to the fleet management center for real-time monitoring.
Avoid Irresponsible Drivers
Being able to review video, plus having vehicle data of the time that an accident happened, can help get to the root of an accident. This evidence can be useful for holding someone responsible for the accident and also for improving driver behavior.
If drivers know that they are being monitored, they are likely to improve their behavior. Video Telematics Systems can help overcome bad driving habits like hard brakes, fast corners, and speeding.
Avoid Operational Blind Spots
Remote fleet managers are usually unaware of what is happening during fleet operations. Did the cargo was integral and received in time? Is the driver taking an out-of-route path? Is the driver following safety standards during work?
Knowing what is happening during all operations can help lower costs and improve driver’s productivity. Fleet managers can have the video data of all sides of the truck and in real-time. When they need forensics, they can also browse through historical videos and match them with vehicle data.
Reduce Fuel Consumption
Simply put, driving more consumes more fuel. What vehicle telematics does is provide a monitoring platform for knowing where the trucks are in real-time and where they were a couple of hours ago. Telematics can help determine the route that a truck driver is taking if it is out-of-route, and the historical speeds, so that the fleet managers can plan a better route, and thus save fuel.
Other details provided by Video Telematics solutions, such as the current load of the truck and the number of stops, can also help optimize fuel efficiency.
Monitor the Location and Activity of Out-of-route Trucks
Video telematics systems can provide precise object tracking through GPS, Cellular, or a combination of both. GPS tracking systems give more exact location information and have wide coverage. A GPS receiver collects real-time information about the location of the vehicle.
On the other hand, the cellular network is faster in finding the location and can even work at fast speeds. But cellular also has disadvantages. It may have limited coverage, and it needs a data plan.
Video telematics requires a mobile network to send location data, even if it is GPS data, to a fleet management center. The location data can be combined with video footage, and vehicle data so that that fleet managers can identify, no only location, but speed at any point in time, the entire route, and whether the truck is bypassing a geofence.
Why Lanner V3S is a good hardware platform for Video Telematics?
Lanner V3S is a rugged vehicle NVR system, designed for video surveillance, recording, and analytics. This hardware platform integrates all the video telematics components and acts as a connection gateway for the fleet management center.
The V3S comes with six RJ-45 ports (Power-over-Ethernet) so that the vehicle telematics components such as video cameras can be connected via the wired network.
To provide the gateway connection, the platform comes with two mini-PCIe sockets where you can insert 3G, and 4G/LTE SIM cards, and have the truck connected to the Internet and VPN tunneled to the fleet control center.
It also allows you to input the GPS tracking signal into the device and includes an output to an in-vehicle display monitor with two DVI-D’s.
Video telematics can be summarized as:
Video Data + Computer Vision + Vehicle Data = Video Telematics.
Today, truck fleets managers are solving problems and challenges through video telematics systems. These systems use a series of cameras and sensors that can be installed throughout the vehicle. They gather data from the vehicle and from the external environment and send it over to an in-vehicle gateway in charge of video data, networking, and external communication. This gateway consolidates the data from the sources and sends it over though an LTE mobile network to the fleet management center.