By developing innovative and practical software applications specifically for buses, Openmatics, the open telematics platform from ZF, is pursuing its goal of making it easier for transport operators to deploy and maintain vehicle fleets. The fact that these applications will benefit not only transport operators, but also their drivers and passengers was highlighted by several apps presented at the 2015 UITP World Congress and Exhibition – with two new concepts particularly worth noting.
Telematic solutions from Openmatics are equally popular and suitable applications to make riding the bus as comfortable, varied, and entertaining for passengers as possible. A perfect example is the new solution called “Roadcaster,” which was unveiled for the first time and comes with both software and a new on-board hardware component. Firstly, it allows diverse multimedia content, such as movies, TV shows, music, news, and route information to be streamed on mobile devices. Secondly, this application contains a kind of digital remote control that allows users to conveniently navigate through the different offerings using a tablet or smartphone. Thirdly, “Roadcaster” also offers fully-fledged Internet access in the vehicle. These groundbreaking functions are offered by Openmatics either as a comprehensive package or as individual, separate functions and can be upgraded to include add-on apps such as “Vote the Bus.” This add-on app can be used to create, conduct, and analyze current surveys quickly and easily, so that operators can check passenger satisfaction, the attractiveness of the city center, or events, for example.
The second Openmatics application just introduced is the seminal cloud-based “deTAGtive.” This app is designed to simplify fleet logistics for transport operators in the future – in a modified version, it allows passengers to identify and locate their luggage at all times. To make this possible, “deTAGtive” uses what are called Bluetooth Low Energy tags (BLE). These are radio chips with a range of up to 30 meters that communicate both with the bus's Openmatics On-Board Unit (OBU) as well as with the mobile devices such as tablet PCs or smartphones.
Improved efficiency on the road
Openmatics has long supported public transport operators with increasingly comprehensive applications to help them effectively reduce their overheads, this means increasing efficiency both in operations as well as in vehicle usage itself. The recently launched “Profi Driver” app offers proactive driver training to improve the driver's driving style – for greater fuel efficiency and gentler vehicle handling on the road. One of its features allows drivers to compare, on an android display, their performance with the average results of the whole fleet at any time. Fleet managers benefit from the app and its modern and intuitive operator interface as well. Thanks to “Profi Driver,” they are able to quickly and easily analyze the bus drivers' driving styles on a web portal – and based on this solid data – develop targeted optimization measures for improving fuel efficiency and reducing maintenance costs.
The Openmatics application “Fuel Overview” performs a similar function by showing the fuel consumption data of an entire fleet or also individual buses and drivers over a specific time period. The application additionally functions as an alarm system to prevent fuel theft by signaling a sudden, extreme reduction in the fuel tank's content.
Openmatics has customized its “Driving Times” app especially for intercity buses and coaches. It prevents the legal regulations for driving hours and driver breaks from being violated. It displays continuously updated information on how long a driver may still drive during a day, a week, or a fortnight. This makes it particularly easy to compare the data of several drivers and, based on it, figure out how to best further deploy drivers and vehicles. Moreover, the app also provides additional valuable information such as how many kilometers a driver has left to drive - at a certain average speed - taking into account his or her driving and break times. “Driving Times” enables companies to consequently streamline their utilization schedules and considerably reduce their risk of fines, thus ultimately identifying potential legal violations early on and prevent them.
“Pre-Trip Inspection” improves public transportation workflows, regardless of bus type, so that vehicle-specific checklists can be created and wirelessly transmitted to the respective OBU in the vehicle. Shop mechanics or drivers can use mobile devices to access the digital forms directly on the bus, complete and update them, and subsequently make them available again to the fleet manager. This automated process saves time and money, minimizes sources of errors, and improves the safety of the driver and passengers thanks to exact vehicle checks. Also, well-maintained buses are better for the environment.