As the world moves towards a future of electric and autonomous vehicles, telematics systems are playing an increasingly important role. A telematics system is an electronic device which collects data from vehicles such as electric cars or self-driving cars. This data includes information about the vehicle's speed, engine temperature, battery level, location and more, which is then sent wirelessly to a remote server where it can be analysed by software programs.
While telematics systems may seem like mere channels for sending and receiving data to control remote devices, it is one of the core technologies that is driving the electric vehicle (EV) and autonomous vehicle (AV) industry. Thanks to telematics, the possibility of developing driverless cars sensing their surroundings through embedded sensors and navigating through roads with in-built software with minimal human intervention is now within sight. This not only aids smart cities in building a more progressive nation, but also promises drastic reductions in traffic accidents since as many as 94% of them are results of human error.
Though it is true that the pandemic has slowed down automakers' progress, the adoption of electric cars and development of autonomous vehicles have been on the rise in recent years. Market experts have even forecasted that the EV and AV market will accelerate rapidly from 2024.
The Role of Telematics in the Electric and Autonomous Vehicle Industry
There are six levels of autonomous cars, - ranging from zero to five - but the current automotive market has only reached level two. They are as follows:
The lowest level of automation where controls are subject to the drivers' behaviour.
Basic automation that assists drivers to steer and brake the vehicle.
Drivers have to monitor and perform some functions, but automation can assist in steering, braking and accelerating the vehicle within predefined parameters.
Automation performs most tasks in an ideal environment, but drivers may have manual control when prompted by the system.
The vehicle's Advanced Driving System performs independently in an ideal environment without human intervention.
Autonomous vehicles can function on their own in any environment without the need for human monitoring or control. At this level, vehicles can communicate with other cars, traffic lights, traffic signage and roads.
While there is still a long way to go before reaching level five, telematics technologies are opening up a world of possibilities. It all started with GPS-based systems around 2001 which brought about compact navigation devices such as Garvin and TomTom that were used in civilian vehicles. Today, GPS technology in vehicles is adopted in most countries and even leveraged by insurance companies to predict traffic dangers and assess drivers' behaviour to determine car loan policy premiums and pay-outs.
Besides enabling efficient navigation from one point to the other, telematics systems are capable of resolving many key challenges that EVs and AVs are facing. For starters, they are capable of collecting data from OBD-II, GPS, tyre pressure and driver face images for preventive maintenance and driver monitoring.
The deployment of sensors such as cameras, radars, and lidars for monitoring the surroundings also helps drivers anticipate potential traffic scenarios to make more informed decisions. Equipping AVs with these sensors means having a 360° view of the external environment, thereby providing a broader picture of the traffic conditions around them. With a more holistic view of nearby cars, pedestrians, cyclists, traffic signs and unexpected obstructions, more accurate actions can be taken to reduce the chances of road accidents and avoid congested zones for smoother travel.
Besides navigation and sensing, fleet operators are now combining telematics with charging management systems for monitoring and optimising EV charging operations. For instance, a bus fleet operator that requires fast direct current (DC) charging on a regular basis will benefit from telematics integration as the integrated system will help the operator manage energy consumption when the energy supply is most expensive, reducing overall operating costs.
With telematics systems revolutionising the electric and autonomous vehicle industry, it is safe to say that the transition from 4G to 5G going forward is set to take the impact of telematics on the EV and AV industry to the next level. The high-speed 5G connection promises ultra-fast data transfer speed between IoT-enabled devices and is said to have a reaction time 250 times faster than humans. This means real-time vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications will become ultra-reliable because of the low latency. With or without a driver, the AV can utilise highly precise real-time information to take necessary action on the road ahead of time to achieve a more efficient drive.
That being said, in the future when automakers can finally develop level four or level five AVs, telematics technologies can create an even more significant impact to the public transportation and logistics sectors. Just imagine highly efficient shared autonomous vehicles (SAV) capable of picking up passengers in multiple locations using the most efficient routes and dropping them off in the shortest time. It will not be a surprise for these SAVs to replace public buses that utilise the same congested route every day or driver-driven taxis that are costly for one-passenger rides.
The Role of Electronics Manufacturers in the Development of Telematics Systems
To ride the rising wave of the EV and AV industry, automakers must recognise the importance of partnering with the right manufacturing partner. Working with an experienced electronics manufacturing service (EMS) provider like PCI not only reduces the large investment required for developing telematics systems and establishing in-house facilities, but also allows AV automakers to allocate limited resources to EV or AV technologies and have more strategic opportunities.
The rapidly evolving industry is not going to tolerate lengthy development processes. Existing or new players in the EV and AV market alike must leverage critical partnerships that can put them on the fast lane of the autonomous world. That being said, engaging an EMS provider with in-depth expertise in telematics offers tremendous cost-savings, competitive advantage and go-to-market success.
These benefits are undoubtedly possible with an EMS provider such as PCI, with over 40 years' experience and a profound knowledge in telematics design, certification and manufacturing to handle fleet management of any scale. With all the resources at the automakers' disposal, they can realise faster returns on investments. Time and costs required for testing the EVs and AVs as well as getting regulatory approval can also be easier to achieve.
More importantly, working with an all-rounder like PCI means automakers will always be able to keep abreast with technologies even as upcoming EVs and AVs require more components and innovative solutions. PCI has expert knowledge in a wide range of technologies including telematics, human-machine interface, single-board computer and printed circuit board (PCB) assembly that can be upscaled according to the market's requirements.
Embrace the Future of Telematics Solutions With PCI
For automakers gearing to take their EV and AVs from level two to five, there is no better time than now to leverage the expertise of PCI. Share your boldest ideas with us and we will deliver turn-key solutions customised to your requirements. Contact us today to discuss your project and let our dedicated customer service team provide you with a comprehensive proposal and road map that will catapult your endeavour ahead.
With telematics technologies closely knitted to the advancement of the EV and AV industry, the world is going to witness an explosion of new and improved applications in the autonomous market that will change the way people travel on a daily basis. It is not just about smooth navigation, but also enhanced road safety and high-performance driving experience characterised by unmatched speeds and low costs. For automakers wanting to excel in the EV and AV market, partnering up with PCI, an EMS provider with extensive experience in telematics and the automotive industry, is the fastest and most reliable go-to-market strategy.