There’s more fun to today’s automobiles than master ing sharp turns at
high speeds or rolling down the windows and letting the wind blow back your
hair. Cars have become ‘smarter.’ Thanks to an automotive wireless
communications system called ‘telematics’ that incorporates global
positioning system (GPS) technology, many carmakers can now link motorists to
services that provide emergency calling, directions or other location-based
services. This new technology is taking the automotive industry by storm.
The emerging convergence of computing and communications will make our world
much smaller, even while on the road. Tomorrow’s ‘smart cars’ will be
equipped with systems that can provide real-time traffic information and play
music on demand.
The term telematics originated in Europe and remains widely used in the
automotive industry. It’s an emerging market of automotive communications
technology, combining wireless voice and data to provide location-specific
security, information and entertainment services to drivers. DamlierChrysler was
one of the first companies to describe their communications technologies as
telematics systems and customers quickly identified with the new term.
The first systems deployed addressed the need for added safety and security
in the car. Motorola pioneered the telematics market in 1996 when it helped Ford
introduce the first emergency response system, called RESCU.
Since Ford’s RESCU system, Motorola has helped many carmakers bring
telematics to drivers worldwide. It capitalises on the converging technologies
that we’re beginning to embrace and take for granted–things like wireless
communications, GPS, embedded software and voice recognition.
Motorola’s core technology components are found in the Telematics
Communications Unit (TCUÃ”), which is composed of deeply integrated software and
hardware technologies, including GPS, necessary for delivering telematics
services to drivers. The TCU connects the car and driver to a response centre.
The breadth of services telematics systems can offer motorists is limited by
the amount of data that the cellular infrastructure can support. As network
operators move to global packet radio service (GPRS) and 3G technology, the
packet-data delivered services demanded by drivers will only grow.
In an emergency situation, a telematics system automatically notifies a
response centre when an airbag is deployed. This is especially important when
the driver is unable to manually contact a response centre. In some telematics
systems, automatic notification to the response centre also occurs in a
With telematics systems, drivers can request information and quickly receive
help in emergencies or problem situations. Telematics systems in the future will
extend these capabilities even further and bring greater levels of intelligent
transportation to all drivers.
Services available today include:
- Vehicle management services –empowering consumers to remotely unlock car
doors if keys are accidentally locked inside
Car-theft notification and tracking services that are
triggered by an embedded alarm system in the vehicle
Convenience voice services –offering users mobile
Convenience data services –enabling motorists to access
real-time stock quotes and current news reports
Motorola and its telematics customers recognise that these
technologies directly address the ongoing safety concerns of motorists. These
telematics leaders believe the inherent value of these technologies – the real
improvements they provide in automobile safety and convenience–necessitate
their broader availability in all vehicle classes.
In the next few years, cars may carry entertainment systems that will play
music on demand, provide route assistance and accompanying traffic information,
deliver personalised news weather and sports or even offer the capability to
even read e-mail.
To date, there are already over 150,000 telematics systems on
the road in North America and Europe. The Strategis Group, an analyst firm based
in Washington D.C., and Frost & Sullivan both predict that these numbers
will increase dramatically in the next three years. Experts estimate the
telematics market will reach at least $8 billion by 2003.
Motorola is developing personal area network technologies
that will–in the future–allow seamless integration between cars and portable
wireless devices. In addition, Motorola will help enable wireless delivery of
entertainment on demand, with all its attendant e-commerce opportunities.
What can drivers expect to see coming down the telematics
highway in the near future?
More information services – ranging from more advanced
safety services messaging and entertainment–as high-speed packet-data
Strong collaborative networks–set up by private
companies, public organisations and individual consumers–to satisfy the
demand for new levels of driver-automobile interaction
Up-to-date travel guides, e-mail and voicemail access,
aeroplane and hotel reservations, and server-based navigation incorporating
real-time road conditions
On-board safety, convenience and entertainment services.
In the Future
The future of telematics cannot be realised by one company acting alone. We
must strive toward a telematics ecosystem that actively involves consumers,
automobile manufacturers and technology companies in ensuring that telematics is
adopted and embraced at the mass-market level.
Automobile manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, BMW,
Nissan and Renault bring years of automotive manufacturing expertise and
experience to the development of telematics. Technology companies are able to
leverage their experience in developing and manufacturing wireless data
protocols and communications, cellular network solutions and remote wireless
The future of the telematics market will depend on the industry’s ability
to make telematics products and services available and economical for mainstream
consumers. Consumers want one package that is easy to use, affordable and
provides a solution to their needs. In order to deliver this solution,
automotive, technology and service companies must develop a service and pricing
policy that will drive proliferation of telematics products in the mass consumer
Driving into the Future
Motorola and AT&T Wireless are working together to develop and produce
the first custom embed ded communications engines for both GSM-GPRS and AMPS
(analog) technologies. Drivers will have cellular network access with seamless
coverage throughout North America. The GSM product will be designed to provide
faster voice and data communication for telematics services and enable
Telematics Control Units (TCUs) to link up with a call center from AT&T
Wireless’ growing GSM/GPRS network and existing AMPS networks in North
America. Mercedes-Benz plans to be the first company to offer the new
communications engine and TCU as a standard feature on all vehicles beginning
mid-2003. Better start saving your pennies cause that’s just a short 1.5 years
Using an enhanced, telematics-friendly, digital network, AT&T Wireless
will provide the national cellular network services to support communication
between vehicles and the call center. As a result, vehicle and driver location
data from the GPS receiver should reach the call center more quickly, resulting
in faster response times from call centers in emergency situations, when time is
a critical factor. (You mean like when you’re looking for ice cream!)
This technology will also provide enhanced features such as server-based
navigation, which enables drivers to receive dynamic navigation information,
updated live traffic reports and automatic re-routing services for individually
selected destinations. In addition, the new communications engines have the
capability to provide access to personalized information services such as maps,
driving directions, e-mail and yellow page references for finding points of
interest like the nearest video store, cow-pattie toss competition, or gas
Initially, this product and network are being developed as a next-generation
telematics system for Mercedes-Benz vehicles. In the future, Motorola and
AT&T Wireless plan to extend this product offering to other automotive
customers and to system integrators.