Weekly Brief: Truckers, it's time to join the pack

Weekly Brief: Truckers, it's time to join the pack

In this week’s Brief: Scania, E.U.’s Seventh Framework Programme, Volkswagen Group Research, Royal Institute of Technology, Oldenburger Institut für Informatik, IDIADA Automotive Technology, Science & Corporation, Transportes Cerezuela, Renault, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Un-Blinking Technologies, Google, Waze, woop, TomTom Business Solutions, WirelessCar, Audi connect and the U.S. Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Vehicles traveling in large teams are an anomaly on roads today, reserved mostly for funeral processions and military platoons. Teaming up reduces aerodynamic drag, however, meaning that if commercial trucks were to travel in packs, they could save fuel and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Last week, a pan-European alliance led by Scania announced a three-year, €5.4 million research project to develop a system for implementing truck platooning on European roads.

The project will delve into the technology necessary to implement platooning on a large scale. Chief among implementation challenges is to establish an integrated vehicle-to-vehicle communication system that can relay information to truck drivers about where they can join and leave platoons, and about available alternative routes, taking into account variables like weather conditions, traffic, delivery schedules and the weight and speed of the trucks.

Of the €5.4 million, €3.4 million will come from the E.U.’s Seventh Framework Programme. The alliance behind the project includes Volkswagen Group Research, Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, Oldenburger Institut für Informatik in Germany, IDIADA Automotive Technology in Spain, Science & Corporation in the Netherlands and the Spanish haulage company Transportes Cerezuela.

“We hope that this project will increase awareness in Europe of the many advantages of platooning,” says Sven-Åke Edström, Scania’s senior vice president of truck development. “Platooning will require standardized support systems as well as legislative action that will be clarified in this project.”

In other news, Renault and Orange joined forces as part of a research project to test automotive uses of broadband, 4G LTE connectivity. Under the partnership, Orange provided an advanced rollout of 4G at Renault’s research and testing facilities, where Orange and Renault teams plan to test solutions enabled by mobile broadband, ranging from virtual office and Cloud gaming to video conferencing. An initial test is underway on the NEXT TWO prototype, which is based on Renault ZOE and will be presented at the upcoming LeWeb’13 conference.

Sticking on the telecom front, Deutsche Telekom and telematics provider Un-Blinking Technologies introduced the iCar M2M solution, which enables U.S. car dealers to offer value-added services like automated reminders for oil changes and remote diagnostic information directly to customers. As iCar is OEM- and vendor-independent, the dealers can now offer these services to buyers of any vehicle. Deutsche Telekom has already piloted iCar at a dealership in Seattle and plans to roll out the solution to 300 additional dealerships across the U.S. in 2014.

Google announced that Google Maps will now crowdsource images for its Street View feature. In much the same way Waze collects traffic information from a legion of drivers reporting traffic incidents in real-time, the new Street View will cobble together 360-degree views from the photo sphere feature on Android smartphones. It’s a clever way to personalize and update Street View, which currently consists of images that often date from 2009 or older. Google acquired Waze earlier this year.

In insurance telematics news, woop, a newcomer to the U.K. market, said it will power its usage-based insurance (UBI) offering with TomTom telematics technology. TomTom's LINK 410 tracking device will be installed in the policyholder's vehicle to provide data on various aspects of driver performance, from acceleration and harsh steering to braking and accident reporting. woop caters to young drivers with a smartphone app interface and a no-curfew policy.

In China, WirelessCar expanded on its Audi connect service by providing a call center that supports the various Audi location-based services, infotainment and information features. Drivers can contact the call center for any connected vehicle query – for example, to get their points of interest pushed to their navigation systems in the car.

Finally, U.S. Senator Edward Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent letters to 20 major automobile manufacturers requesting information about how consumers are protected from cyber attacks or unwarranted violations of privacy. As the connected car becomes more pervasive, and the prospect of leveraging Big Data in the automotive sector more concrete, fears about the possibility of hacking into a car’s computer system need to be mollified, the senator wrote. His goal? For automakers to demonstrate robust vehicle security policies that ensure the safety and privacy of U.S. drivers.

“As vehicles become more integrated with wireless technology, there are more avenues through which a hacker could introduce malicious code, and more avenues through which a driver’s basic right to privacy could be compromised,” Markey wrote.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Consumer Telematics Show 2014 on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, and V2X and Auto Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.


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