Track Vehicles by Cell or Satellite

By Admin

RJI's new vehicle-tracking unit switches to satellite communications in areas with no cellular coverage.


Jan. 10, 2003 – Most vehicle tracking systems use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to calculate the location of a vehicle. That information is transmitted via a cellular network to a monitoring station. If the vehicle enters an area where there is no cellular coverage, visibility is lost.


RJI, a San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based provider of asset tracking systems, has unveiled a new tracking device that can switch between GSM cellular and direct satellite communications to provide constant visibility.

Rick May, RJI’s VP of business development, says the company developed the new system for a large logistics company that wanted to be able to monitor the position of trucks no matter where they are. “We’ve also been working with U.S. government agencies that are looking for technologies that provide constant contact with critical loads,” he says.

There is concern within the U.S. government that terrorists could hijack a truck carrying fuel or hazardous materials and ram it into a crowded building. Remote monitoring may be one way to reduce the risk of that kind of catastrophe.

RJI’s IDVu-S device could help secure cargo in transit. In addition to transmitting data on the location of a truck, the unit provides data on the vehicle’s speed, direction, altitude, and whether the doors are opened or closed. There’s even an emergency button a driven can lean on when threatened.

Companies can add other sensors that provide information on the status of the engine or the trailer. For instance, temperature sensors can be set up to monitor a refrigerated car. The system can also transmit data from RFID tags on products. For instance, a driver might scan items with a handheld as they are offloaded. The data could be transmitted to RJI’s Web portal and used to confirm that the right goods are being delivered.

The tracking devices cost about $825 each, with discounts for volume purchases. RJI charges about $35 per truck to provide access to the data from the tracking unit via a secure Web portal. If customers want to pull data into their own fleet management systems, the information can be provided in ASCII format.

“We give you the access to the data, and you can set it up or adjust your communications needs and do whatever you need with the data that’s online,” says May. “So for the same price as GSM-only system, this technology gives you a way to track vehicles and goods constantly.”

RJI is targeting companies that transport high-value and high-risk materials, such as hazardous chemicals, fuel, and electronics. May says the system can also be used to track rental trucks and cars, utility, service and delivery vehicles, and heavy-duty construction equipment. He adds that units have been field-tested for several months, including use by one of the largest overnight delivery firms.

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