What is Telematics?

Telematics sounds like a rather technical word for something incredibly complicated, doesn’t it? In fact, it is simply a term which is commonly used to describe the electronic technology which we find in cars. Although it isn’t restricted to vehicles this is the context in which it is now most commonly used.

This is something which is hugely important in cars these days and even fairly low cost vehicles now often offer some degree of telematics in them. To understand it better we can break this subject down into a few different and interesting areas, such as the following ones.

The Black Box for Cheaper Insurance

Although telematics involves much more than just the black box in cars we hear so much about these days, we’ve started with it because it is probably the most relevant for our site. Basically telematics allows your insurance company to place a little device within your car which tracks how well and where you drive. If you drive well or if you drive less often than the average driver then you could pay less for your insurance, it’s as simple as that. So what other forms of telematics are there?

GPS / Satellite Navigation

It is hard to recall the days when going to somewhere for the first time meant driving with a giant map unfolded on the passenger seat. These days GPS receivers and satellite navigation system let us get around without any worries or any hassle. It is easy to take this sort of technology for granted now but when you think about it this is an incredibly useful and intelligent type of system which has changed how we drive. Many GPS receivers are built into the vehicle’s own in-car information and entertainment systems.

Mobile Phone Integration

It seems clear that the integration of mobile phones into the technology within cars is going to be something we see increase greatly in the near future. There are already some cars which offer docking stations for phones. If you check out the latest news from car manufacturers you are likely to come across details of new plans too, as many of the big names in the industry are currently working on ideas to make owners of their cars integrate their phones seamlessly. This is something which is current generally restricted to more expensive, higher end vehicles but we should see it start to filter down to more economical models in the future.

Talking Cars and Self Driving Cars

This is another piece of telematics which we are sure to hear a lot more about before too long. For example, there is a lot of work going on just now to work out how vehicles can talk to each other. It sounds very sci-fi and futuristic but some experts believe that it won’t be too long before we drive cars which warn each other of dangers up ahead. Of course, this is a big factor with the subject of self driving cars. Autonomous vehicles are a hot subject right now and they need to come packed with technology which lets them drive safely and avoid collisions without any human intervention.  Different car makers all over the world are working on improving their designs and technology for driverless cars.

Adaptive Cruise Control

This type of cruise control uses advanced technology to make sure that the vehicle adapts to changing situations by altering its speed. The ways this works currently is that the car uses radar or sensors to work out when it has to slow down because there is a vehicle in front of it. It then speeds up once the road ahead is clear. At the time of writing this form of telematics doesn’t use information shared between different vehicles but this is an advance which should be covered under the previous point we looked at.

Self Parking Cars

You may have seen a video of a car parking itself recently, as demonstrations at motor trade shows caused a bit of a stir in 2013. This involves the use of cameras and sensors to allow the car to park itself without he driver doing anything. One of the most intriguing showed how the driver walked away and let the car park itself before we called it using a phone app to come and collect him.

image courtesy of gizmag.com

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