Sensors-based telematics is a great tool, enabling efficient data gathering, insightful notifications, careful engine management, emission monitoring, driver behavior control, and a long list of other useful opportunities. With the constantly rising amount of various sensors and their functionality, sensors support becomes a critical opportunity for any innovation-driven telematics platform. Here we will go through some important sensors types and their benefits for telematics.

Sensors and their types

Modern cars have a lot of regular sensors which are connected through the vehicle’s local network (CAN). The growing bandwidth of mobile networks allows this data to be transmitted to a server in real-time, easily, and cost-efficiently.

Embedded smartphone sensors are among the crucial components, providing mobile-based telematics functionality progression. For sure, the actual sensors set largely depends on the particular smartphone model, but some of them already became very frequently used:

  • GPS unit
  • Gyroscope
  • Accelerometer
  • Magnetometer
  • Proximity sensor

We have covered some working principles of these sensors in our post on smartphone sensors and mobile telematics, therefore here we’ll mainly consider some dedicated sensors that could be utilized in addition to the regular ones. For example, a car carrying frozen food needs one or more temperature sensors. Often, sensors are installed to record the use of special equipment, like a drum rotation sensor in a concrete mixer truck or a passenger meter in a bus, tire pressure, truck axle load, etc.

Utilizing data from vehicle sensors, organizations can obtain reliable data on the real load of their fleet with useful work, monitor compliance with the conditions of transportation of goods and the condition of the equipment, assess the quality of driving. This, in turn, allows them to reduce commercial, financial and reputational risks associated with fuel thefts and misuse of vehicles, damage to goods, increased wear and tear of vehicles, road accidents, and other aspects.

Long-time measurements performed throughout the fleet provide the company with powerful and insightful analytics which can serve as the basis of management decisions and assessment of their efficiency. Thus, the management can understand which drivers need to be retrained, which vehicles are due to repair, which cars are more profitable to buy, etc.

Sensors for insightful telematics: examples

Nowadays a wide range of various dedicated sensors is available already, and the list of such sensors continues to grow regularly. Therefore, here we will consider just a few common types of sensors.

A fuel level sensor is a device designed to make precise measurements of fuel level in vehicle tanks. In some cases, the measuring sensor could be added on the telematics platform automatically. For instance, when installing an OBD2 GPS tracker. These measurements combined with a GPS tracking and telematics platform functionality enable the following data to be harvested:

  • fuel level in the tank of a vehicle
  • fuel refilling
  • vehicle idling
  • fuel usage monitoring
  • fuel theft prevention
  • fuel refills or drains
  • fuel consumption per time period
  • average fuel consumption (miles per gallon, mpg)
Fuel monitoring in OBD2 and CAN widget on Navixy

Another common sensor type is the BLE sensor that shows the data from wireless measurement sensors connected via Bluetooth. The main types of BLE sensors at the moment are temperature, fuel level, humidity, battery voltage/level. Creating separate BLE sensors will simplify the configuration of wireless measurement sensors.

Continuously rising attention attracting blood pressure, heart rate, and passenger counter sensors. Blood pressure and heart rate sensors show the pressure and heart rate of a person using the tracker. Such sensors allow providing telematics services to elderly persons. The passenger counter sensor shows the number of passengers entering and leaving. Adding such sensors to the telematics platform solves the tasks related to the counting of carried passengers.

Some vehicle trackers can transmit data on the current state of doors, hood, and trunk. One can track its current status and find out if one forgot to close the doors. This data is transmitted via the CAN bus.

Accordingly, the tracker must be equipped with a built-in or external CAN reader connected to the vehicle. As soon as the system receives information that one of the elements is open for the first time, the corresponding line will appear in the CAN data widget.

Most modern GPS devices have a set of data transmitted to the backend server. The list itself can be quite big and include information about the device itself (coordinates, altitude, acceleration along all axes, mileage), and information about the vehicle to which it is connected (ignition status, coolant temperature, axle load), and the status of other external devices (e.g., an external temperature and humidity sensor). All this information could also potentially be utilized for insightful telematics and is a subject of telematics platform functionality and flexibility.

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