Actility Launches Vehicle-Tracking Solution for U.S. Market

By IOT Journal

Combining Abeeway Master Tracker hardware with Actility's ThingPark IoT software platform and Cisco LPWAN gateways, the solution was demonstrated at Cisco Live in Las Vegas earlier this month.

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Actility, the industry leader in Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) and location solutions, today announced the availability of a vehicle tracking solution for the U.S. market. Combining Abeeway Master Tracker hardware with Actility’s ThingPark IoT software platform and Cisco LPWAN gateways, the solution was demonstrated at Cisco Live in Las Vegas earlier this month. Using an app on their smartphone or public screen to determine the arrival time of the next shuttle bus between their hotel and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, any of the almost 30,000 visitors to the event could avoid queuing in the Nevada heat for their ride.

“Tracking buses driving in unpredictable traffic to avoid waiting in line is a really simple, basic application of the power of our LPWA geolocation solution,” explains Actility CEO Mike Mulica, “and it demonstrates very clearly how easy it is to deploy that solution in the real world and deliver benefits to customers immediately. Of course, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. We believe that geolocation is probably the killer app for the IoT globally. The US has been lagging behind the rest of the world in deploying LPWAN solutions, and we can see the American market is now beginning to accelerate rapidly, and we’re ready for that. The same solution that’s tracking buses around the Strip is ready to transform other industries like vehicle fleet management or logistics. For example, we can find one specific car amongst the thousands in a leasing company’s parking lot, or track refrigeration units and vehicle chassis nationwide for a containerized cold-chain distribution company.”

“Cisco is constantly looking at consuming new technologies – Cisco on Cisco – as a way to optimize the services we offer to internal users, partners and customers,” says Cisco Distinguished Engineer Patrick Grossetête. “For the first time, a global LoRaWAN service was deployed at Cisco Live for Cisco and partners running demonstrations but also to pilot new services that may improve the 28,000 participants’ user experience. For example, deployment of outdoor LoRaWAN gateways and trackers in shuttle buses, allowed real-time monitoring to optimize the wait time in the Las Vegas hot weather. Such successful demonstrations raised the customers’ LoRaWAN awareness and led to many discussions on how applying asset-tracking to customers’ environment could improve their business.”

Abeeway Master Trackers, operating on the 915 Mhz ISM band frequency required for the US market, were installed in many of the 150 shuttle buses that circulate in the area of the southern Strip in Las Vegas, carrying attendees from their hotels and the airport to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Although the distance is only a few miles, traffic congestion and multiple stops make the arrival of the shuttles at any stop unpredictable, and the round trip can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Using the tracking application and mapping software, travelers could see the location and progress of each of the shuttles on its journey.

Actility is a Cisco Preferred Solution provider, and Cisco installed an LPWA network to cover the Cisco Live event and support a number of applications, of which shuttle bus tracking was only one. To provide outdoor coverage for the entire southern Strip area from Las Vegas Airport to the Caesar’s Palace Hotel, only three gateways were required, installed at the Mandalay Bay, Cosmopolitan and MGM Grand hotels.

Demonstrating the flexibility of LPWA geolocation, the trackers were programmed to send location data every minute when the vehicle was moving, but only once an hour if the bus was stationary and parked. The Abeeway Master Tracker is a self-contained industrial product with an internal battery giving a life in the field of up to several years, so tracking is not dependent on power from the vehicle being available.

The tracker also uses Actility’s innovative “Low-Power GPS” technology specifically optimized for LoRaWAN, which allows fewer satellites to be used for a fix and reduces the GPS lock time to a few seconds. The power required for both signal acquisition and processing is reduced: this combination results in a remarkable increase in battery life, by an order of magnitude versus existing GPS location technology. Using this low-power GPS the shuttle bus trackers were able to achieve an overall location accuracy of around two meters throughout the five-day duration of the trial deployment.

“We’re delighted to be working with Cisco in demonstrating the power of geolocation,” concludes Actility CEO Mike Mulica, “and we’re convinced this very successful trial is just the first step in an accelerating journey together to deploy solutions that will rapidly trigger the digital transformation of logistics, supply chain management and transportations services throughout the US.”