AT&T & Daimler Partner on Connected Trucks, Fleet Services

AT&T and Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) — a division of the German mobility powerhouse — are bringing wireless connectivity to heavy-duty truck fleets worldwide.

The expanded relationship will see AT&T’s Detroit Connect platform cover DTNA’s Freightliner Cascadia trucks built for the Australian and European markets.

The Detroit Connect platform enables enhanced safety reporting and powertrain diagnostics, and features over-the-air updates and fuel efficiency analytics capabilities for vehicles.

The telematics are designed to boost efficiency, safety and performance, as well as offer additional advantages for long-haul trucking fleets.

Detroit Connect can also benefit fleets of various sizes and types, Chris Penrose, president of Internet of Things solutions at AT&T, told TU-Automotive.

“Vertical industries have differing requirements for their fleet solutions,” he said. “Some of the most common are vehicle tracking in near real time to understand team and vehicle movement and driver behavior to improve safety and preserve their brands on the road.”

Penrose explained other major requirements are work and time audit features to understand field service effectiveness, proof of delivery, and for compliance reasons, as well as location-based services for stolen vehicle recovery and repair.

AT&T already connects more than 3 million fleet vehicles, counting small business, enterprise and government organizations among its customers.

Penrose added that when it comes to data security, AT&T takes a layered approach, offering security at the device level, the network, the applications and threat detection and analysis, providing end-to-end security for the company’s IoT solutions.

“There are three major trends to point out in connected fleets: data analytics, add-on services, autonomous and semi-autonomous driving,” he noted.

A tremendous amount of data could be gathered from vehicles, from the tires, to the batteries to the engine subsystems and more, Penrose said.

In addition to the Australian continent, Detroit Connect will be available on 2018 model year Freightliners and newer in 24 European countries, including the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy.

“Telematics solutions are getting more and more sophisticated by using aggregated data to produce trends, predictive maintenance, driver scoring and vehicle comparisons,” Penrose said.

He also pointed out that fleets are increasingly combined with other services such as field service and dispatch systems, crash notifications and other emergency services, camera and visual inputs, asset tracking solutions and work flow solutions, providing end-to-end field service solutions for the connected workforce.

“As 5G and automated driving features are introduced, we will see the introduction of driver-assist features and different levels of automated driving,” Penrose said.

AT&T and Swedish carmaker Volvo also recently entered into an agreement to provide high-speed wireless connectivity for Volvo cars across the globe.

The company will enable data communication for Volvo’s infotainment service through its own network and carrier agreements, with new services including WiFi hotspots, which AT&T already provides in the US and Canada.

Connected car shipments will top 80 million units in 2021, reaching an installed base of 305 million vehicles, according to IT research firm Gartner.

An April ABI Research report forecasts that 8 million vehicles will roll off assembly lines with automated driving capabilities in 2025.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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