Weather Telematics transforms truck fleets into national sentinels

Weather Telematics has now equipped 1,500 trucks with weather sensors and telematics black boxes from Mobile Devices. These trucks have now collected more than 27 billion weather data points over fifteen million miles and generated unparalleled weather data quality. At the same time, the black boxes continue to provide fleet management services as well as black ice alerts to drivers.

Date 2010 start
Country USA
Size 1500 vehicles to date
Main Partner Weather Telematics
End Users Truck fleet carrying the sensor box, National Weather Service, other consumer forecasting services
Vertical Market Heavy truck fleet management + weather data collection
Mobile Devices Technologies Used C4 D
Core app/ service Weather Telematics uses mobile assets to carry sensors along major Interstates throughout the US, pulling readings every ten seconds. The data collected is then sent to various weather service publishers. The driver is also sent immediate weather (black ice) alerts
Key Feature Fleet Management system in truck is used to pull weather data
Critical innovation Massive sensor range includes black ice detector that informs the driver of the risks.
This is the only private application to collect and transfer weather data from the road that is approved by the National Weather Service
Why Mobile Devices The C4D enables weather Telematics to configure and tune the sensor box while providing first class fleet management.

“Mobile Devices allows Weather Telematics to actually do telematics work. Its open architecture enables us to create and update our application directly on the box.”
Bob Moran, CEO of Weather Telematics

The Solution

The system can be used primarily as a surface weather observation application, to supply data for weather forecasting and modeling agencies, or; it can be used by fleets purely as a risk management tool for driver safety.

Mobile Devices supplies a C4D model with two serial ports:

One is for the main sensor box that sits on top of the vehicle, approximately three to four meters above the road surface. The box includes sensors to read road surface temperature, humidity, ambient temperature, dew point (calculated), precipitation, light intensity, ozone (for the environment protection agency) and barometric pressure.
The second is for the road surface temperature sensor located at the bottom of the vehicle, no more than one meter above the ground. The road surface sensor is a patented miniaturized Passive Infrared thermometer with a germanium coated lens and inclement weather barrel. All the sensors are sited according to meteorological specifications.

Black ice alerts:

The black Ice detection is an inherent part of the system. The feature is designed to calculate the Cross Point, which is the difference between Dew and Frost Point. Using a proprietary meteorological algorithm, the black ice detection system combines road surface temperature with data from the other sensors including ambient temperature, humidity and precipitation to determine when moisture changes from liquid form to solid.
From the perspective of a pure black ice fleet application, the intelligence behind the system translates into a very user friendly interface via an ICE Blue LED warning light, which alerts the driver when the conditions for black ice are prevalent.

Tracking:

Running alongside the onboard weather application, the telematics platform includes asset tracking, speed, location, journey times, etc. The system also has a CANbus interface, which allows Weather Telematics to collect weather-related vehicle diagnostics such as humidity into the intake valves, antilock brake, transmission, idling, fuel consumption, etc. The system also houses an onboard Ozone sensor, enabling the collection of environmental data. This by itself is already valuable, but the data also allows the fleet to determine its vehicles’ carbon footprint.

The Advantages

 

Some of these sensors are unique to the market, as is the meteorological algorithms used to collect, calibrate and deliver the weather information.

The system is so advanced that weather elements such as fog, terrain-related, stagnating air or valley phenomena, which are usually not represented, now get picked up to create a more accurate picture and forecast of the weather conditions.

The trucks carrying the sensor system also benefit directly from live information from sensors underneath the truck that detect the formation of black ice.

The Model

Weather Telematics provides the sensor box, and the National Weather Service approved the proprietary solution to interpret the collected data, which is distributed in three ways:

–    The US governmental agencies (National Weather Service)
–    Consumer services: branded weather services
–    Fleet management systems: for temperature-sensitive goods, the weather management capability enables route calculation depending on the weather. Weather alerts can also be used to re-route long haul transporters

The system is forecasted to collect close to 27 Billion data points annually in its current force of 1500 vehicles.

All data is archived and researchable for historic patterns and signatures. Weather Telematics actually has truck chasers equipped with the same weather platform to test the readings. This is a prerequisite for the National Weather Service to ensure consistency of data, calibration and siting of the equipment.

The entire system runs on the Morpheus3 Open Telematics Operating System, so it can be recalibrated over the air automatically should a variance occur that requires a reset.

Data from trucks travelling on the same road will vary slightly depending purely on the weather phenomena encountered and at what elevation. The real innovation here is that the system delivers a real-time crumb trail for weather data from the ground up. Weather Telematics calls it the Terra Layer of weather. Unlike fixed weather stations, each vehicle can be considered to be the equivalent of 8,640 fixed weather stations dispersed randomly across a broader geographical terrain. The Weather Telematics mobile network fills in the observation gaps left by fixed weather stations to provide finer spatial and temporal resolution for more accurate and timely weather alerts and forecasts.

The Future

Recently, a tornado touched down in the Northeastern part of the USA, killing four people.

At the time there were nine Weather Telematics equipped vehicles running during the pre-, touchdown and after-weather effects. This data was immediately isolated into specific research projects, which helped meteorologists to create predictive models to recognize what could be the perfect pre-tornado signature.

These research projects extend to the prediction of other inclement weather phenomena which of course can be used by environmental monitoring systems (EMS) and insurance companies to warn the public of pending hail storms or flash freezing (black ice).

Looking beyond the weather and environmental sensing capabilities, the platform is, in fact, designed to turn the vehicle into a sentinel on the road. A camera could be added for video streaming or snapshot coverage of a triggered situation. A radiation sensor could be added to transform the system into a whole new mobile security fence able to safeguard against radiations, be they nuclear, gamma or simple dirty bomb materials.

Beyond the initial 1,500-unit rollout of its unique mobile weather platform, Weather Telematics projects that its surface climate network will expand to include an additional 10,000 units within the next two years.