Two of the hot topics in automotive technology these days are telematics and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Both deal with automotive data, so many people confuse the two, but there are differences in connectivity and communication. The Internet of Things can bridge those differences, allowing both to become more functional and effective in ensuring car and road safety.
Driving is one of the things that most people do every day and so have forgotten how complicated it really is. There are a lot of things that the driver needs to check and interact with, including other vehicles, the environment, pedestrians, and their passengers. In addition to operating the car, drivers also have to monitor the traffic, navigate through obstacles, and often also do other tasks such as tuning the radio or setting the right air conditioning temperature.
With all of the stuff that a driver has to attend to, is it any wonder why traffic accidents are so prevalent? In the United States, there were close to 11 million traffic accidents in 2009. In fact, for that year, there was 1 fatality for every 10,000 Americans due to motor vehicle accidents.
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have the potential to make our lives better. As the name connotes, these are systems and technologies that aim to assist the driver on the road, thereby improving road and car safety.
There are several types of advanced driver assistance systems that are available today, performing functions such as detecting pedestrians and helping avoid collisions. Other systems recognize traffic signs or tell drivers when they are straying out of their lane. There are systems that provide drivers with adaptive cruise control and high beam assists. Others would not let a driver start their car if they reek of alcohol.
Future possibilities of advanced driver assistance systems are endless. They can cover a wide range of situations, ensuring that drivers could be forewarned or alerted about everything that could possibly go wrong when driving.
ADAS is a fairly recent technology for most vehicles, however. As such, there are a lot of misconceptions when people are talking about them. One of the biggest mistakes is using the term “advanced driver assistance systems” interchangeably with telematics. It is not totally wrong, but it is not exactly correct to say telematics when you mean ADAS.
Telematics combines several technologies. It includes telecommunications, road transportation, electronics (such as instruments, sensors and wireless connectivity), road safety, car technologies, computer science, and others. It involves devices that send, receive and store data and this data is used to control remote objects. When it comes to cars, telematics integrates the use of telecommunications and informatics; hence the name “telematics.”
Telematics in cars has two necessary elements: information processing and telecommunications. For example, a vehicle tracking system would use GPS sensors or odometer readings to collect location information and then send it to a web-based or desktop computer-based software so that you could get reports about your vehicle, the routes it takes and other information. It could also help in managing fleets of vehicles. A system, though, that gets data but does not transmit it over any network, such as over a WiFi connection, GPRS, or other mobile networks, is merely an advanced driver assistance system.
However, telematics and ADAS can mesh together. For example, adaptive cruise control is one of the many examples of advanced driver assistance systems. Using sensors, your car will know just how near you are to the vehicle in front of you, and if you get too close, it will slow itself down but still remain in cruise control mode. In this case, telematics is not involved.
But, you can expand on the autonomous cruise control features of your car if you add in wireless communication. Instead of relying on sensors such as lasers and radar, your vehicle will have mobile devices in it that would allow it to communicate with the car ahead of you. If the driver of the car in front of you brakes, it will send a signal telling your car about it, and as such, the system would be able to adjust your car’s speed accordingly, well before you get within range of the car’s proximity sensors.
Traffic sign recognition systems are another example. Earlier systems use visual information to tell you about the restrictions of the road that you are driving on. If the signs are obscured, you might not be able to get the right information. However, add in telematics to this, and your GPS coordinates can be sent to a server that has traffic sign and restrictions information and these are sent back to you.
As you can see, not all advanced driver assistance systems are considered to be telematics systems, but they can be improved using telematics. At the same time, though, not all telematics systems are used for vehicles and road safety. Vehicle telematics might form a large part of the telematics pie, but there are other applications for telematics too — such as vehicle infotainment systems.
Telematics and ADAS are different systems with different purposes. But if you take the connectivity of telematics and merge it with the sensors and displays of ADAS, you turn the vehicle into an IoT device. This bridges the systems and gives each more capability and effectiveness.