Fleet Telematics And Driver Management

Arpit Agarwal, Associate Director - Data Science, Zoomcar

Zoomcar is one of India’s largest self drive urban mobility platforms. Zoomcar has a presence in 27 cities with a fleet of over 3,000 vehicles and 20+ models while PEDL is operational across 6 cities with more than 3,000 cycles.

Traditionally, businesses involving vehicles whether transportation of man or goods, incurred heavy staff and maintenance costs. The high ratio of people to physical assets was making it difficult for businesses to scale profitably. There was a dire need to make the businesses asset light. There was very little to ensure predictive maintenance of vehicles or safety of drivers. Also, it was seen that manual maintenance led to lot of fraud and theft which raised security concerns. Thus, overall cost of running such businesses became unreasonable. Following 3 pillars became the focus of improvement in Fleet management:

1. Reducing asset Cost Structure
2. Increasing the Life/Health of Fleet
3. Ensuring safety and mitigating risk

With the advancement of technology and invention of fleet telematics, all the 3 became possible. The world’s biggest /most innovative companies (e.g. Uber, Tesla, Google, Zoomcar etc) are now using similar technology to manage their fleet. Let’s deep dive into how does fleet telematics work and how is vehicle and driver safety ensured using this data.

Components of Fleet Telematics:
1. GPS Tracking: The most basic functions in all fleet management systems, is the vehicle tracking component. This component is usually GPS-based, but sometimes it can be based on GLONASS or a cellular triangulation platform. Once vehicle location, direction and speed are determined from the GPS components, additional tracking capabilities transmit this information to a fleet man agement software application. Satellite tracking communications help to track vehicle in remote environments without interruption. Users can see actual, real-time locations of their fleet on a map. This is often used to quickly respond on events in the field. 2. OBD (On Board Diagnostics): This refers to vehicle's self-diagnostic and reporting capability. Initially it was used only by professionals and hobbyists to repair vehicles. Nowadays, OBD information is commonly used by vehicle telematics devices that perform fleet tracking, monitor fuel efficiency, prevent unsafe driving, as well as for remote diagnostics and by pay-as-you-drive insurance. Although originally not intended for the above purposes, commonly supported OBD II

data such as vehicle speed, RPM, and fuel level allow GPS-based fleet tracking devices to monitor vehicle idling times, speeding, and over-revving. The OBD device reads the data in binary format through voltage fluctuations from the sensors and the same is transmitted remotely using cellular network or Wi-Fi.

Analysing Driver Behaviour using Vehicle Telematics:
Road traffic injuries are among serious concerns in emerging economies. Their death toll and economic impact are shocking, with 9 out of 10 deaths occurring in low or middle-income countries; and road traffic crashes representing 3 percent of their gross domestic product. One way to mitigate these issues is to develop technology to effectively assist the driver, perhaps making him more aware about how her (his) decisions influence safety.

In Zoomcar, we have used car telematics data from the OBD 2 device to generate a unique driver score. This enables us to reduce accidents and car maintenance costs.

Vehicle telematics will drive future of fleet management around the world

Let’s understand how Driver Behaviour is analysed:
There are 4 main events which help differentiate a bad driver from a good one
1. Hard Braking
2. Rapid Acceleration
3. Over Speeding
4. Sharp-Turns

Hard Braking utilises the vehicle speed and braking data from the OBD device. Sharp dip in speed along with intense braking signifies a hard braking event. The interpretation of event differs with the driving conditions. In bumper to bumper traffic we experience more cases of hard braking as compared to highway drives. On the contrary, hard braking on highways is fatal due to high speed collisions.

Rapid Acceleration can be gauged by a combination of positive change in vehicle speed per sec and intensity on accelerator pedal. This behaviour is mostly noticed on empty roads/ highways or when people get out of idling in heavy traffic.

Over Speeding is the most common event amongst drivers especially the young ones. The catch here is, over speeding is relative to traffic condition and speed limits. This makes it most difficult to judge. On highways, even 120 km/hr is not over speeding whereas on a traffic laden road 50km/hr is also over speeding.

Sharp-Turns are very dangerous and are common events amongst road racers and aggressive style drivers. The variables to measure this behaviour are: Azimuth (direction to the north in degrees) and the speed of the vehicle. In naive terms, if change in azimuth per sec is above a certain threshold, at a high speed, it would certainly be counted as a sharp turn. These events are prone to topple the vehicle, thus risking major damage to vehicle and life.

Different businesses give different emphasis to the above events while calculating the driver score. Heavy load transportation companies are very sensitive to over speeding and sharp turns as the high momentum of heavy vehicles can cause risk to life around them. Passenger transportation business would give an equal importance to hard braking and acceleration as well because these events are more frequent and decelerate the life of the vehicle.

Vehicle telematics will drive future of Fleet management around the world. In order to be competitive and lower costs, businesses involving large use of vehicles will have to take care of the health of the vehicle and make sure that people are driving them responsibly.

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