Acceleration-based telematics features in shared mobility (pt. 1) – Shock, motion, and tilt events

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Shared Mobility, Technology

Summary

By interpreting and processing information from telematics’ satellite navigation hardware and accelerometers, both the vehicle status and the driving behavior of customers can be monitored. As a result, accelerometer-based telematics features are the foundation of enhanced driving analysis capabilities. This blog piece focuses on intelligent event detection for parked vehicles that empowers shared mobility providers to investigate unusual vehicle movements.

parked vehicles

Telematics and connectivity solutions are the technological backbone of every shared mobility service and are used to create a digital twin for each vehicle of an operator’s fleet. As a gateway, telematics enable direct vehicle access and the retrieval of a wide range of data points that are used by sharing providers to ensure a seamless user experience and to increase business efficiency. Apart from basic vehicle or immobilizer lock/unlock functions, these telematics feature satellite navigation hardware and accelerometers. These features can be used to create events or proactive notifications that give valuable information about the vehicle status. By interpreting and processing this information, both the vehicle status and the driving behavior of customers can be tracked. As a result, accelerometer-based telematics features are the foundation of enhanced driving analysis capabilities. 

In this two-part blog series, we focus on the accelerometer features of telematics solutions and discuss the potential of using this data in conjunction with GNSS and other resources to provide valuable insights into the vehicle status and driving behavior. This data can be used by shared mobility operators, rental businesses, or any other fleet owner who is interested in data-driven insights to optimize the service. This blog piece focuses on an intelligent event detection for parked vehicles. 

The importance of accurate vehicle positioning

The information about the exact vehicle position is always vital to operators. They need to know where and when a rental has started or ended to keep track of the fleet remotely and to organize charging or cleaning services. From the customer’s point of view, precise localization is also an important factor that shapes their experience. Customers must be able to easily find available or reserved vehicles to experience a convenient service. 

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is used for determining a vehicle’s position. To make positioning even more precise, some telematics use a WiFi module to match the GNSS position with the position of available networks in the surrounding area. But for parked vehicles, a continuous satellite-based or WiFi positioning can drain the vehicle or auxiliary batteries too fast. This creates the risk that customers might not be able to start their trip, which affects the reliability of the sharing service. As a result, a more restricted use of positioning is required, e.g. receiving the actual position only once per hour. But when data is only transmitted once per hour, then there’s valid concern that a stolen vehicle becomes hard to track. Therefore, it is important to find a way to track theft or crash without draining power by constantly receiving positioning data.  

To ensure that telematics is always able to detect suspicious vehicle movements, accelerometer data can help. Accelerometers react to sudden movements and can quantify a detected shock or movement. After the accelerometer has registered an unusual movement that exceeds a threshold set by the operator, the telematics will wake up and send an updated position. 

How CloudBoxx differentiates different acceleration events

When working with acceleration data, it is important to distinguish different use cases. A short impact or shock can be differentiated from a more continuous movement. A shock could be one vehicle bumping into the other, whereas the continuous movement could be the actual vehicle being towed or pushed away. Another use case is the detection of a tilt of a vehicle. This is especially relevant for two-wheelers, as these can be tipped over. In this case, the accelerometer reading gives clues on the “new” orientation of the vehicle.

Illustration of shock and motion events

INVERS telematics and connectivity solution, CloudBoxx, has a built-in accelerometer used to detect shock, motion, and tilt events. In the figure above, the acceleration of a vehicle is plotted over time for two different event types. The upper graph shows an impulse-like acceleration of a very short duration. The impulse-like course points to a shock event. In the lower graph, on the other hand, the acceleration lasts for a certain time. After an initial acceleration increase, constant acceleration values are measured over a longer period. This curve represents a motion event as it occurs when a vehicle is being towed. 

To detect tilt in a vehicle, an initial calibration is performed right after installation of the CloudBoxx so that the “upright” position of a two-wheeler vehicle is known. As soon as a set threshold for tilt – or rather lateral acceleration – is passed the tilt event is triggered. This way, the operator can go and put the vehicle in the upright position again. 

illustration tilted moped

Especially with mopeds, it is important that the tilt angle is not too limited. Customers often have two options for parking a moped: either on the main stand or on the side stand, which causes the vehicle to tilt. By setting individual thresholds, operators can ensure that they can clearly interpret all vehicle positions. 

To prevent any false alarms and to meet the specific characteristics of the vehicles, operators have the option to set individual thresholds for the CloudBoxx accelerometer. For example, they can define an activation threshold by giving a range of acceleration for shock or motion or a width or duration of acceleration of the signal.

Conclusion

By analyzing accelerations of parked vehicles using the CloudBoxx, sharing operators will find it easier to investigate unusual vehicle movements and are enabled to react to theft and vandalism. A central component is the accurate detection and interpretation of different acceleration events occurring in a shared fleet. Events like parking bumps, suspected theft, or being towed are measured and immediately interpreted by the INVERS CloudBoxx. When operator set thresholds are passed, events are reported. 

Learn more about INVERS Driving Analysis and how shared mobility providers benefit from CloudBoxx acceleration-based features.

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