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A Short Overview of Telematics

Dr. Chih-Shun Hsu

Editor in Chief, International Journal of Vehicle Information and Communication Systems



1. Introduction to telematics


“Telematics” is a combination of the two words “telecommunications” and “informatics”. Today the term “telematics” usually refers to the communication and information systems of vehicles. The communication systems of vehicles are not restricted to telecommunication systems only; they also refer to wireless communication systems. Currently an intelligent vehicle may contain pairs of forward and rear radars, cameras and recorders, a positioning system, a communication facility, a computing platform and a touch screen. The vehicle may collect, retrieve or exchange external information through its communication facilities. It may also collect internal information through its radars, cameras and positioning system. All of this collected information is processed and analysed by its computing platform. Important information may display on the touch screen. Finally, the computing platform may assist the driver in making proper decisions and taking appropriate action so as to avoid danger and save travelling time. Hence telematics play an important role in intelligent vehicle and intelligent transportation systems and thus have attracted a lot of attention.


2. Research topics and applications of telematics


The research topics of telematics cover the areas of vehicle communication and information systems and all possible applications of telematics. Vehicle communication systems are in charge of the communications between the vehicle and the world. The vehicle may communicate with other vehicles through vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications. Usually V2V communication is not through the telecommunication system so as to save energy and costs. The vehicle may also communicate with other devices which are connected to the Internet through vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communication or a combination of V2V and V2I communications. Several vehicles and roadside units (RSUs) may form networks known as vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs). The on-board unit (OBU) and RSU are the two important communication components in the VANET. Usually an OBU contains a CPU, a set of transceivers, a GPS, several sensors and an input-output interface. The CPU is used to execute application programs and protocols; the transceiver is used to communicate with neighbouring vehicles and RSUs; the GPS is used to get accurate location and synchronisation information; sensors are used to sense the statuses of vehicles; and the input-output interface lets the user interact with the OBU. In VANETs, several areas can be studied, such as V2V and V2I communication protocols, cooperative communications, communication devices, positioning, localisation, navigation and mobility management. Usually vehicles communicate with others through radio. Hence vehicular antennas, RF design, spectrum management, transmission technologies, communication theory, wireless access technology, quality of service and security are also important issues.


Vehicle information systems are responsible for collecting the information of vehicles, processing this collected information, and finally making proper decisions and taking appropriate actions. The information concerning the vehicle itself and its surrounding environment is gathered from vehicular sensors or meters, while the information concerning other vehicles and their surrounding environments is gathered through vehicle communication systems. Vehicular computers compute, process and analyse this gathered data. After data processing and analysis, the vehicle information systems may use artificial intelligence to assist the driver or even control the vehicle to take proper actions according to the analysis results. Some of the possible applications of telematics are vehicular status monitoring and reporting, collision detection and avoidance, emergency warning, traffic management, traffic coordination and assistance, traveller information support and comfort adjustments. These applications allow vehicles to become safer and more convenient and comfortable.


3. Future trends of telematics


In the future, information and communication systems of vehicles will be integrated with cloud computing and big data analysis. A vehicle will not only become smarter but will also be able to interact with the world outside of itself. A vehicle is no longer isolated. It can cooperate with other vehicles to make traffic safer and more efficient. It can also retrieve necessary information from the Internet or send data to the cloud for storing in a database and aiding big data analysis through data centres. Based on the results of big data analysis, vehicle behaviour models can be built, environment-aware services for vehicles can be provided, and manufacturers of automobiles can build more convenient, comfortable and safer vehicles. These results can also be used to improve the safety, efficiency and convenience of transportation systems.


The editorial team of the International Journal of Vehicle Information and Communication Systems (IJVICS) encourages researchers of computers, communications, vehicles and transportation to share their research results and experiences through IJVICS in order to enhance the development of vehicular technologies and contribute to the high quality of the journal.




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Anis Laouiti, Arnaud Dela Fortelle, Paul MÜ hlethaler, and Yasser Toor, "Vehicle Ad Hoc Nerworks:Applications and Related Technical Issues," IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, Vol. 10, No. 3, 3rd quarter 2008, pp.74-88.
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