Posts Tagged ‘Telematics’

Flood Triggered Automated Camera System (FTACS)

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

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When the Department of Natural Resources of Australia decided that they needed to capture data about the natural flooding of a cave, they turned to a hacker to get results. The goal was to photograph the area during these floods with an automated system. In the end, they used a gutted Lumix digital camera mounted in a trash can, covered in aluminium foil. Though it sounds a bit silly, the final product turned out quite nice. You can see the build log, schematics, and results on the project page.

In this case the event they are trying to capture pictures of a cave flood with a Flood Triggered Automated Camera System. The system consists of a camera that is connected to a moisture sensor so that the a camera can start taking pictures when the sensor gets wet. Pictures will continue to be taken every 15 minutes until the moisture levels go back to normal. Since it is being installed in a remote location it needed to be self sustaining.

The water sensor is an interesting design since it has the ability of killing the power to the entire system when the conditions are dry. This is done by using a Darlington transistor feeding a relay.

Courtesy of Penguins Lab

Adaptive Cruise Control Goes Mainstream

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

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Heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike, Ford Motor Company engineer Jerry Engelman swings his 2010 Taurus into the left lane to pass a semi. The Taurus hesitates, slowing down, and then Engelman adjusts his heading. The car takes off. “Larry,” he calls to his colleague in the back seat, “write that down!”

Engelman is driving, but just barely. The Taurus has a radar-based adaptive cruise-control system that lets him set a top speed and then simply steer while the car adjusts its velocity according to traffic. He’s been weaving and changing lanes, doing between 45 and 70 mph—and hasn’t touched a pedal in an hour. Over the past few years, Ford engineers have driven 60,000 miles to test, tweak, and optimize this system, which also provides collision warning alerts. They’ve been focused on the future in a financially dismal present—analysts actually praised Ford for losing only $1.4 billion in the first quarter. “It’s a tough market,” says Derrick Kuzak, VP of global product development, noting that the Taurus is important for “reestablishing us in the large-sedan market.” That’s executive-speak for “This car really needs to sell.”

source: wired.com

Car Reads Road Signs For You

Friday, June 27th, 2008

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As cars become smarter than the people driving them and do more of the things humans should be doing for themselves — checking blind spots, watching for lane departures, anticipating collisions — it was only a matter of time before a car started reading road signs.

The “Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning” system available early next year on General Motors’ new Euro-only Opel/Vauxhall Insignia scans the road ahead at 30 frames per second to read road signs and tell you when you’re wandering from your lane.

The most innovative aspect of the system is the road-sign recognition processor, which can read signs as far as 100 meters away.

The system uses two processors and a camera — called, appropriately, the Front Camera System — mounted near the rear-view mirror. One processor identifies familiar shapes, symbols and digits on common road signs and conveys the information to the driver via a digital display in the gauge cluster. The other alerts the driver when he or she strays from the lane.

“These new features follow Opel’s philosophy of enhancing driving excitement by assisting drivers without reducing their level of control,” says Hans Demant, managing director of GM Europe Engineering. “That means the system gives the drivers information, but it doesn’t intervene.”

We’re not entirely sure why GM thinks it’s easier to read a speed-limit sign on a tiny display between your speedometer and tachometer than on a big road sign. Dement says “a car that can see and warn the driver well in advance of potential hazards is another important step in our long-term accident prevention strategy.” GM Europe also is developing vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems that allow cars to exchange information about their position and speed.

Source: WIRED

Graphic by GM.

Laptop-controlled irrigation revolutionizing farming

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

laptopEfficient management of water in some of the driest, most drought affected farming areas in NSW has reached a new world standard thanks to automated ordering systems that allow irrigation farmers to control water delivery at the touch of a keypad.

Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL) is a co-operative business that manages infrastructure, systems and services for delivering water to and from more than 450 farms in the NSW Riverina region.

The CICL sources its water from the Murrumbidgee river, through an open channel system whose main canal can flow at up to 6000 megaliters a day. The majority of farms it services are 200 hectare farms growing large area crops such as rice, sorghum, soy beans, maize, wheat and barley.

The CICL system delivers water to farms through some 700km of channels, driven emission free by gravity. The farms that CICL services have suffered their worst two years on record for water allocations, and have endured severe drought conditions since the turn of the century.

the cropsBut an automated water management system from Rubicon Systems, rolled out in 2003 and due for completion next year, is helping to turn the tide in the farmer’s favor when it comes to efficient delivery and use of water.

There are about 700 outlets in the CICL system, 100 of which are automated FlumeGates that, upon receiving an order for water via a farmer’s computer, can deliver precisely the amount of water required without any human interaction, and in a fraction of the time it would take under manual control.

CICL’s senior operations engineer, Austin Evans, said the automated outlets can deliver higher flow rates which help the farmers water their farms more efficiently. They can get their water on quickly or turn it off from their laptops, improving their field efficiency. Read more on this article.

Remote Data Analysis in Motorsports

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Telemetry has been a key factor in modern motor racing. Engineers are able to interpret the vast amount of data collected during a test or race, and use that to properly tune the car for optimum performance. Systems used in some series, namely Formula One, have become advanced to the point where the potential lap time of the car can be calculated and this is what the driver is expected to meet. Some examples of useful measurements on a race car include accelerations (G forces) in 3 axes, temperature readings, wheel speed, and the displacement of the suspension. In Formula 1, the driver inputs are also recorded so that the team can assess driver performance and, in the case of an accident, the FIA can determine or rule out driver error as a possible cause.

motorsport telemetry windows application

In addition, there exist some series where “two way” telemetry is allowed. Two way telemetry suggests that engineers have the ability to update calibrations on the car in real time, possibly while it is out on the track. In Formula 1, two-way telemetry surfaced in the early nineties from TAG electronics, and consisted of a message display on the dashboard which the team could update. Its development continued until May 2001, at which point it was first allowed on the cars. By 2002 the teams were able to change engine mapping and deactivate particular engine sensors from the pits while the car was on track. For the 2003 season, the FIA banned two-way telemetry from Formula 1, however the technology still exists and could eventually find its way into other forms of racing or road cars.

In addition to that telemetry has also been applied to the use of Yacht racing. The technology was applied to the Oracle’s USA-76.

Practical applications of vehicle telematics

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

When used in a commercial environment vehicle telematics can potentially be a powerful and valuable tool to improve the efficiency of an organisation. Some practical applications of vehicle telematics include;

Vehicle tracking

Vehicle tracking is a way of monitoring the location, movements, status and behaviour of a vehicle or fleet of vehicles. This is achieved through a combination of a GPS(GNSS) receiver and an electronic device (usually comprising a GSM GPRS modem or SMS sender) installed in each vehicle, communicating with the user (dispatching, emergency or co-ordinating unit) and PC- or web-based software. The data are turned into information by management reporting tools in conjunction with a visual display on computerised mapping software. Advanced vehicle localisation system for public transport may employ odometry instead of GPS/GNSS.

Trailer tracking

Trailer tracking is the technology of tracking the movements and position of an articulated vehicle’s trailer unit, through the use of a location unit fitted to the trailer and a method of returning the position data via mobile communication network or geostationary satellite communications, for use through either PC- or web-based software.

Cold store freight logistics

Cold store freight trailers that are used to deliver fresh or frozen foods are increasingly incorporating telematics to gather time-series data on the temperature inside the cargo container, both to trigger alarms and record an audit trail for business purposes. An increasingly sophisticated array of sensors, many incorporating RFID technology, are being used to ensure that temperature throughout the cargo remains within food-safety parameters.

Fleet management

Fleet management is the management of a company’s vehicle fleet. Fleet management includes the management of ships and or motor vehicles such as cars, vans and trucks. Fleet (vehicle) Management can include a range of Fleet Management functions, such as vehicle financing, vehicle maintenance, vehicle telematics (tracking and diagnostics), driver management, fuel management and health & safety management. Fleet Management is a function which allows companies which rely on transportation in their business to remove or minimize the risks associated with vehicle investment, improving efficiency, productivity and reducing their overall transportation costs, providing 100% compliancy with government legislation and Duty of Care obligations. These functions can either be dealt with by and in-house Fleet Management department or an outsourced Fleet Management provider.

Satellite navigation

Satellite navigation in the context of vehicle telematics is the technology of using a GPS and electronic mapping tool to enable the driver of a vehicle to locate a position, then route plan and navigate a journey.

Mobile data and mobile television

Mobile data is use of wireless data communications using radio waves to send and receive real time computer data to, from and between devices used by field based personnel. These devices can be fitted solely for use while in the vehicle (Fixed Data Terminal) or for use in and out of the vehicle (Mobile Data Terminal).

Mobile data can be used to receive TV channels and programs, in a similar way to mobile phones, but using LCD TV devices.

Wireless vehicle safety communications

Wireless vehicle safety communications telematics aid in car safety and road safety. It is an electronic sub-system in a car or other vehicle for the purpose of exchanging safety information, about such things as road hazards and the locations and speeds of vehicles, over short range radio links. This may involve temporary ad hoc wireless local area networks.

Wireless units will be installed in vehicles and probably also in fixed locations such as near traffic signals and emergency call boxes along the road. Sensors in the cars and at the fixed locations, as well as possible connections to wider networks, will provide the information, which will be displayed to the drivers in some way. The range of the radio links can be extended by forwarding messages along multi-hop paths. Even without fixed units, information about fixed hazards can be maintained by moving vehicles by passing it backwards. It also seems possible for traffic lights, which one can expect to become smarter, to use this information to reduce the chance of collisions.

Farther in the future, it may connect directly to the adaptive cruise control or other vehicle control aids. Cars and trucks with the wireless system connected to their brakes may move in convoys, to save fuel and space on the roads. When any column member slows down, all those behind it will automatically slow also. There are also possibilities that need less engineering effort. A radio beacon could be connected to the brake light, for example.

Emergency warning system for vehicles

Telematics technologies are self-orientating open network architecture structure of variable programmable intelligent beacons developed for application in the development of intelligent vehicles — with target intent to accord (blend, or mesh) warning information with surrounding vehicles in the vicinity of travel, intra-vehicle, and infrastructure. Emergency warning system for vehicles telematics particularly developed for international harmonisation and standardisation of vehicle-to-vehicle — infrastructure-to-vehicle — and vehicle-to-infrastructure real-time Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) systems.

Telematics most commonly relate to computerised systems that update information at the same rate as they receive data, enabling them to direct or control a process such as an instantaneous autonomous warning notification in a remote machine or group of machines. By use of telematics as applied to intelligent vehicle technologies, instantaneous direction travel cognizance of a vehicle may be transmitted in real-time to surrounding vehicles traveling in the local area of vehicles equipped (with EWSV) to receive said warning signals of danger.

Intelligent vehicle technologies

Telematics comprise electronic, electromechanical, and electromagnetic devices — usually silicon micromachined components operating in conjunction with computer controlled devices and radio transceivers to provide precision repeatability functions (such as in robotics artificial intelligence systems) emergency warning validation performance reconstruction.

Intelligent vehicle technologies commonly apply to car safety systems and self-contained autonomous electromechanical sensors generating warnings that can be transmitted within a specified targeted area of interest, say within 100 meters of the emergency warning system for vehicles transceiver. In ground applications, intelligent vehicle technologies are utilized for safety and commercial communications between vehicles or between a vehicle and a sensor along the road.

Car clubs

Telematics technology has allowed car clubs to emerge, such as City Car Club in the UK. Telematics-enabled computers allow organisers to track members usage and bill them on a pay-as-you-drive basis.




Auto insurance

The basic idea of telematic auto insurance is that a driver’s behavior is monitored directly while the person drives and this information is transmitted to an insurance company. The insurance company then assesses the risk of that driver having an accident and charges insurance premiums accordingly. A driver who drives long distance at high speed, for example, will be charged a higher rate than a driver who drives short distances at slower speeds.

Telematic auto insurance was independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance U.S. Patent 5,797,134 and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (European Patent EP0700009B1). The Progressive patents cover the use of a cell phone and GPS to track movements of a car. The Perez patents cover monitoring the car’s engine control computer to determine distance driven, speed, time of day, braking force, etc. Ironically, Progressive is developing the Perez technology in the US and European auto insurer Norwich Union is developing the Progressive technology for Europe.

Trials conducted by Norwich Union in 2005 have found that young drivers (18 to 23 year olds) signing up for telematic auto insurance have had a 20% lower accident rate than average.

Recent theoretical economic research on the social welfare effects of Progressive’s telematics technology business process patents have questioned whether the business process patents are pareto efficient for society. Preliminary results suggest that it is not, but more work is needed.