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Wireless Information Systems Surge Ahead in Vehicles: Telematics, Intelligent Transportation (ITS) and Real-Time Traffic Information, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Telematics: Many near-term advances in car and truck technology will lie in on-board software, wireless communications and convenience features known broadly as “telematics.”  Using cellular telephone technology, fee-based telematics networks, which allow drivers to check e-mail and online services for weather, stock quotes or driving directions merely by voicing a command, are already in place.  Many other features are also provided.  GM’s OnStar is a leading telematics system.  Such systems offer varying degrees of networked services linking cars to external systems such as global positioning systems (GPS).  The external systems monitor the position of each vehicle and perform tasks such as unlocking doors or switching off lights remotely upon request.  They also dispatch service vehicles or medical aid when necessary.  More recent innovations include ultrasonic rear sensors that warn drivers when they are about to back into something, and voice-activated phone dialing and navigation plotting.
OnStar services ( are available in GM cars worldwide.  The OnStar RemoteLink App affords users the ability to view vehicle diagnostics, such as tire pressure, oil life and gasoline levels, start the vehicle remotely and get navigation assistance.
Significant improvements to OnStar’s accident-reporting system have been developed.  The system is able to notify 911 of further details regarding automobile accidents, including the force and direction of impact and whether the car has rolled over.  Through an Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) system, such data travels in real time to an internet database that alerts hospitals, police and similar emergency responders.  
OnStar’s 4G LTE service is standard equipment on all new GM vehicles.  Most other major car manufacturers are following suit with similar products.  As the technology grows, it will be able to provide more and more options, both safety- and entertainment-related.
Apple’s CarPlay software displays an iPhone’s screen on a vehicle’s dashboard, offering access to apps such as Apple’s mapping tool.
Porsche’s Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cable to connect smartphones with its vehicles.  Dashboard touchscreens are sensitive to handwriting, and links written letters or numbers to contacts or addresses automatically.
Car rental giant Avis uses a device located on the underside of a vehicle’s hood that senses the car’s location, fuel level, tire pressure and break pad status.  This data is vital for Avis to maintain its fleet efficiently.  It also affords the company the ability to make its cars more accessible to customers by creating self-service, counter-free hubs away from airports.
Predictive Diagnostics:  Telematics systems that include sensors connected to engines and transmissions are now capable of providing real time diagnostics to fleet headquarters.  This can be particularly valuable to owners of truck fleets, where diesel engines represent immense investments, and predictive software can alert owners to potential failures and the need for preventive maintenance.  PACCAR, a major maker of trucks, worked with the former Sprint Nextel to create an onboard package that includes telematics, navigation, GPS location reporting and predictive analytics.
ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems): The FCC set aside the 5.9-gigahertz spectrum for wireless networks providing in-car services known as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).  ITS includes a broad number of information technologies that can provide an electronic communications link to cars and trucks, enabling drivers to be alerted to road hazards, delays, construction and accidents.  At the same time, ITS can transmit driving directions and a wealth of additional driving-related information.  (Services such as this have been available to drivers in Japan for a few years.)  The U.S. Department of Transportation has a serious effort underway to cooperate with a variety of industries to develop ITS.  (See its ITS-specific web site at
“V2V” or vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems and “V2I” (vehicle-to-infrastructure) systems are under intense development and research.  The 2017 Cadillac CTS sedan was the first vehicle on the road with the technology which can transmit data such as hard braking in the vehicle ahead.  They may soon be required in all new vehicles as a basis for collision avoidance.
Advanced Onboard Traffic Information:  Satellite Radio provider Sirius XM, though best known for satellite-based music, has jumped into advanced onboard traffic information provided by satellite.  Previously, GPS navigation systems calculated routes to a destination, with no knowledge of true traffic conditions along the planned route.  Sirius XM NavTraffic provides detailed traffic information overlaid on the navigation road map, allowing the navigation system to show the traffic conditions between the driver and his or her destination.  The display can show traffic delays, such as accidents or construction, and the average speed of vehicles along the way.
Waze, Inc. offers a social driving app through which drivers share traffic data, maps and other travel information, such as where to find the cheapest gas, or a friend’s location on route to common destinations.  Google acquired Waze in 2013.
The ever-increasing amounts of data, known as “big data,” require more and more sophisticated technology for tracking and analysis.  Take, for example, Inrix, Inc. (, which gathers data from a community of millions of vehicles, including locations, speeds, weather conditions and nearby events such as highly attended concerts or sporting events.  Inrix crunches the data and produces detailed maps used by drivers, city and state authorities and emergency services providers.  Drivers can use Inrix to avoid congested areas, traffic authorities are able to post information on highway signs relating to problems and emergency services can respond more quickly when needed.

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