Future of fleet: Telematics and autonomous vehicles

The year was 2003, when Toyota released a Prius hybrid that had the capability to automatically parallel park the car for the driver. In 2006 Lexus followed suit and in 2009 Ford joined the pack offering parking assistance for drivers.

Now it’s 2019 and a popular question on many drivers’ minds is when are fully autonomous vehicles coming out?

This question is also popular in the fleet management industry. But before we climb into our self-driving fleet vehicles, let’s take a step back and look at today’s automotive technology and ask: Why aren’t our vehicles as connected, smart, and integrated as our smartphones, homes, and even appliances?

Before we hit the road with fully autonomous vehicles, the auto industry can do quite a bit to catch up to our other devices by allowing us to customize our vehicles and upgrade them wirelessly with features we need after we drive them off the lot. 

OEMs sell every vehicle with the same, generic software that provides the same, generic functionality to every customer. But working with professionals in fleet management, we know that generic doesn’t cut it for the different jobs fleet managers oversee. That’s where telematics entered the picture by providing great insight and data on vehicle tracking, routing, reporting, and more; and while data is good, is it enough?

We still need to go through the data, get the important takeaways, train our drivers, and hope the changes have a positive impact. For an industry that’s interested in autonomy, we’ve got a lot of human elements involved. What if we shifted the responsibility for improved fleet performance from humans to the automobiles themselves?

2019 is the year of active vehicle management and adding to the storyline of autonomous vehicles. Active vehicle management provides all the operational data fleet managers need and implements the ideal driving patterns for a fleet into the software of the vehicle itself. This means coding directly into the engine’s software to make the engines work perfectly for the fleet’s needs.

By utilizing active vehicle management, fleets see a reduction in fuel costs, accidents, and carbon footprint, in an autonomous way.

How do we do this?

  • Speed limiter: Set speed limits for the vehicle’s software to keep drivers under the speed limit and reduce fuel waste. Vehicles going 65 mph use 10 – 15% more fuel than cars driving 55 mph, and with speed limiters drivers cannot exceed set speeds.
  • Idle RPM: Active vehicle management rewrites how the engine uses fuel during idle and can even be written to automatically shut off the vehicle after a certain amount of idle time.
  • Power shift: Upgraded vehicle software matches shifting patterns to the fleet’s ideals to reduce fuel waste yet provides enough power for the fleet’s mission.
  • Distracted Driver Prevention: Keep drivers safe on the road with Distracted Driver Prevention (DDP) features, like locking smartphones when vehicles are in drive mode.
  • Seatbelt required: Upgraded vehicle software requires that the seat belt is fastened before the vehicle will turn on.

Experts generally agree that a majority autonomous industry is 10–30 years in our future. We don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of time to miss out on the benefits of today’s auto technology in terms of safety, cost, and reducing our fleets’ carbon footprints.

Fully autonomous vehicles will bring changes to how we drive, but we have access to auto technology that can get us one step closer to autonomy, yet still focused on fuel efficiency and safety today.

Interested in learning more about that auto technology? Download our free guide to engine calibrations and start improving your fleet's fuel efficiency now!