Kevin King
Senior Manager, Electrical Design Engineer

Not necessarily. So here we are well past George Orwell’s year of 1984, and we have not reached the total “big brother watching” scenario, but slowly we see the ability to track various aspects of our life.  If we look at the state of our technology and using tracking technology wisely, it can save us money, if not save lives as well.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of vehicle tracking (and wide spread asset management as well):

  • For delivery and service companies, lost or late and delayed vehicles - you can adjust the delivery or contact customers to notify them of issues to avoid poor customer relationships.
  • Trucking companies can save money and shipments by detecting critical systems.  Envision a sensor network that is monitoring critical systems in the vehicle, occasionally sending off the status at a predetermined rate.  A friend of mine once lost a shipment of champagne grapes due to a refrigeration failure in the Phoenix area. They could have dispatched another truck automatically to take over the shipment and saved thousands of dollars.
  • Dispatching help when a serious impact or rollover occurs.

I could go on and on about the many benefits - vehicle status, driver behavior and monitoring, etc.  There are thousands of possibilities for improving your customer fleet management, including real-time analysis of your operations via cloud services.

In the block diagram in Figure 1, we see what we might consider as a typical MCU design for IoT.  This Renesas winning combination provides the appropriate hardware building blocks to put together your fleet tracking solution, such an Arm® Cortex®-M4 core processor with up to 2MB of FLASH, 640k of SRAM, and a large array of peripherals, including support security and safety. Renesas power and battery management products are provided in this design and were selected to meet the application requirements.

However, if we examine the contents of a typical “on-board” fleet tracker system from a software standpoint, to do a complete job, we still need:

  • File system support for data logging
  • A stack for Enhanced General Packet Radio Service (EGPRS) for connectivity
  • A stack for LTE (Cat M1/Cat NB1/EGPRS) for long range communications
  • GPS software for tracking
  • CAN stack for “talking to / monitoring” vehicle
  • Bluetooth® for application enhancement (local communications)
  • Algorithms for accelerometer monitoring

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of lines of code, not even mentioning the other things like security and over-the-air (OTA) product updates, are also needed.  This is a task not to be undertaken by the faint of heart. So if you want to think about it in terms of saving money, you can save your customer the long hardware and software development time by reviewing this Fleet Tracking Solution design.

Look for the press release planned for next month for a full “canned” fleet tracking solution, then you can focus on adding your “secret sauce” to provide application enhancements for your customer’s fleet tracking needs.

Visit the winning combinations page to see more winning combination solutions that help our customers accelerate their designs to get to market faster.

*Application specific sensors typically include accelerometer, gyros, geomagnetic, thermal and humidity.

Figure 1: Fleet Tracking Solution Block Diagram

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