13 Jul 21

How artificial intelligence is helping vehicle fleet in North America

Fleet management is evolving around the world and some of this can be attributed to the introduction of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision (CV), much of which is coming out of the US state of California.  

For more information on fleet and mobility topics in North America, visit the region's on-demand streams of the Global Fleet Conference 2021. 

These two technologies, among other things, can help fleet managers by tracking vehicles with greater accuracy through the use of sensors and cameras to identify various landmarks on roads which are used to determine their locations. 

Besides detecting tailgating and other bad driver habits, these technologies also provide preventative in-cab alerts such as "inattentive triggers" which detect when drivers are unfocused or facing fatigue or drowsiness. Safety scores and safety reports should also accompany services to maintain optimum driving performance. 

Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes in the U.S. each year.
 Accident in Monterey California (source: Shutterstock)

Artificial Intelligence 

Regarding AI,  fleet operators can use this technology to check vital statistics of their fleet from a central location by way of live streaming video, says Manuj Aggarwal (pictured top) who is Founder and CIO of boutique management consulting company TetraNoodle Technologies. 

For instance, "you can quickly see if your fuel tanks are really running dry or if your vehicles are filling up more often than they should be. You’ll be able to understand how much money you’re spending, and whether it's because of fuel inefficiency or driver error," Mr Aggarwal told Global Fleet. 

Without 24/7 visibility, fleet managers are unable to react quickly when drivers need support or local authorities need to be informed about an incident. In the worst case scenario, it could mean a vehicle breaking down and goods being delayed, something that would have an enormous impact on business-critical operations and customer relationships, according to DHL Supply Chain Fleet Manager Robin Schwartz. 

One company offering this type of service in North America is multinational telematics firm Teletrac Navman which recently released its AI Dual Dashboard Camera. With this, the Garden Grove (California) based company provides artificial intelligence-enabled smart dashcams with forward- and driver-facing cameras that integrate fully with the company’s TN360 platform. 

San Francisco based Samsara says its AI Dash Cams (CM31 or CM32 models) can now detect when drivers are following other vehicles too closely and auto-upload footage to the cloud. Safety managers can also turn on optional in-cab alerts to warn drivers when they are tailgating at an unsafe speed, based on a minimum speed threshold that you can configure in your dashboard. 
Meanwhile, San Diego based Lytx has expanded its machine vision system and artificial intelligence (MV+AI) technology on all dash cam devices to help drivers and fleet managers correct distracted driving as it occurs.  
According to the company, the DriveCam Event Recorder issues a real-time in-cab alert to help drivers recognize and address their own risky behaviors and self-correct in the moment. Depending on the behavior, the alert will include a light and/or spoken phrase. 

Computer Vision 
An additional way technology can boost fleet management efficiency is by aggregating fleet data into one place. Remember that inconsistent data from different systems can lead to the misjudgement of vehicle performance and driver behavior or give completely wrong conclusions about overall fleet performance, says Mr. Aggarwal. 

One way to resolve this is by getting rid of manual data management and fully automating the process of collecting this crucial business data. Fleet managers can do this by implementing state-of-the-art CV technology in their fleet.  

Simply seeing and recording the road ahead is no longer enough for fleets looking for a complete driver safety solution. Thanks to CV, in-vehicle cameras can now read and understand the road and the driver. With CV enabled AI, very sophisticated algorithms can be run “at the edge,” or to say within cameras themselves and without the need to send data to a data center for processing.  

What this means is that advanced dash cams are able to provide drivers with real-time alerts to safety situations, requiring AI-powered computer vision to digitally see what is happening. 

"Besides computer vision enabling vehicles to read registration plates and recognizing vehicle type in real-time, this automation helps reduce traffic jams and passenger waiting times. Among the types of companies that can benefit from CV are logistics and insurance companies as well as their customers," Mr Aggarwal said. 

In the first quarter of this year, Lytx announced an integration agreement with multinational telematics firm Geotab, creating a seamless experience—within a single interface—between Lytx’s video-based telematics platform and Geotab’s fleet management capabilities. 

Among the other North American suppliers providing technical expertise in the region are Calamp (California), Spireon (California), Inseego Corp (California), Verizon Connect (Georgia), and Orbcomm (New Jersey). Make sure to speak with your vehicle leasing or fleet management provider for more insight. 

Authored by: Daniel Bland