US weather technology provider Baron Services has highlighted how integrating real-time data on road weather into telematics systems can help yield a number of advantages for fleet operators.“This data enables pre-planning of employee schedules, supply chains, and assets that could be in jeopardy when there are dangerous road or weather conditions,” said Baron Services’ Glen Denny.

trucks driving in snow

“New technology is available that can easily integrate weather data into next-generation vehicle telematics platforms – including navigation, routing/planning software, mobile apps, and other in-vehicle deployments," he said. “Specific weather data can also be integrated with smart vehicle safety features as part of the development of autonomous vehicles.”

Denny contends that Consumers generally recognize the importance of weather data for their connected vehicles.

“While a recent study of 14,000 car owners showed that map apps are the number one choice for those with connected cars, 49 percent of survey participants cited weather apps as the second most important type of vehicle app,” he continued.

Being informed about the weather helps people plan and feel prepared, even scheduling work days based on predicted conditions.

“Drivers need guidance regarding how the weather will affect their moment-to-moment in transit. After all, weather is the second largest cause of non-recurring congestion, accounting for 25 percent of all delays.”

Denny cites statistics from the US Federal Highway Administration suggesting that nearly one billion hours are lost yearly due to weather-related delays. Safety was also a significant concern, he said.

“Last year, 7,000 people were killed, and more than 800,000 people were injured on our roads as a direct result of adverse weather conditions…

“Even with the advent of satellite radio and in-car apps, delivery of weather guidance to drivers hasn’t changed much since the first radio was installed in a vehicle 94 years ago.

“Drivers get very little actionable weather information, except the radio presenter providing occasional guidance during breaking weather events. There is room for significant improvement in providing real-time updates on weather affecting driving conditions.”

Denny points out that road weather has been a part of vehicle telematics platforms for some time; for example, nearly a decade ago, Baron developed patented roadway weather information focused on identifying location-specific conditions based on a vehicle’s current location.

“A version of this technology is deployed in the SiriusXM NavWeather service and has been adapted for onboard entertainment or navigation systems in more than 30 automotive makes and models,” he explained.

“The basic information includes up to three days of forecasts, with watches and audible alerts that let drivers get the report without taking their eyes off the road to view a display. Similar weather systems have been developed for use in several major automotive manufacturers’ vehicles and a central national fleet management and transportation technology firm.

“As broadband and cellular service became more widely available, interest began to move from the one-way data streams offered by SiriusXM to two-way, connected car applications. The proliferation of OEMs that include 3G, 4G, and proposed 5G wireless mobile technology services in vehicles only increases the availability of road weather safety features. “

Denny says that while improved data pathways are available, vehicle designers are still trying to determine the best way to interface with newer navigation systems.

“Interest is high in providing drivers information on what road conditions would be several days from now – or a mile ahead of them. Baron developed Baron Telematics Weather to meet this need, building off its proven weather telematics technology.

“The platform uses an exclusive eight-year road weather archive, offering real-time and archived traffic incident data. It provides accurate conditions forecasting, allowing planning to avoid bad roads three days in advance.

“The unique 72-hour forecast conditions and half-mile resolution covers all atmospheric threats that affect vehicles, including winds, hail, and heavy rain, as well as road surface conditions like ice, snow, and ponding.”

The new Baron telematics technology uses a proprietary land surface weather model that analyses conditions above and below the surface, considering the surface type. It also shows temperature changes to provide information on whether the temperatures are warming up or cooling down such that ice might be forming.

“The minute-by-minute updates provide drivers with intelligence on what is down the road and what they will encounter,” said Denny.

“Availability of more preemptive data – in advance –will enable drivers to plan better to and ultimately improve productivity. For example, if black ice is causing accidents and delays ahead, the driver can be alerted to its location and provided alternative routing. The information can be delivered via map form and an audible alert.”

He adds that access to the Baron Telematics Weather API data allows developers to easily integrate the service into navigation, routing/planning software, mobile apps, and in-vehicle deployments.

For example, Baron recently announced a partnership with Total Traffic & Weather Network (TTWN). The service is for terrestrial digital radio-enabled vehicles (including Toyota, Lexus, and others). It delivers information in various pathways, including over-the-air broadcasts, HD radio, satellite radio, and Internet-connected distribution systems.

“In the future, there will likely be multiple delivery methods for weather telematics based on the vehicle’s price range,” he continued.

“These will range from 4G systems, one-way narrow pipelines into a vehicle like Sirius XM enabled receivers, API/two-way Internet-connected data connections, and the TTWN terrestrial base. There will be a pathway for weather telematics wherever there is connectivity or radio broadcast.”

In addition to providing access to weather data for driving planning purposes, Denny contends that a robust weather telematics platform has a significant role in the future of autonomous and intelligent vehicles.

He cites various smart-vehicle features, which he says are made safer with high-resolution weather data – such as lane-keep assist, with which: “the side-view cameras used to detect lanes are rendered useless when roads are snow-covered.”

“Weather telematics can provide data to warn the driver and disengage the feature before entering snow-covered roads,” he said.

Electronic stability control (ESC) was another potentially problematic area.

“ESC works great in slippery wet or icy conditions, but in heavy snow where vehicles get stuck, the ESC system can make it very difficult to drive or get the vehicle out of deep snow. Weather telematics can alert drivers of heavy snow-covered roads and turn off traction control in those conditions.”

Likewise, with adaptive cruise control (ACC), during heavy precipitation, radars that detect traffic just ahead or behind the car can suffer signal loss (attenuation), says Denny, rendering the system nearly useless.

“Telematics data can warn the driver of heavy precipitation just ahead so the ACC will disengage. Data on current road conditions can also be used to adjust the distance between cars and speed.”

He added that collision warning systems (CWS) also struggle to operate usefully during heavy rain.

“Telematics data can warn the driver of heavy precipitation, and the CWS will disengage. The data can also adjust the CWS timing based on current road conditions.”

Denny concluded: “Unique patented technology that constantly analyses all roadway conditions in the continental United States and provides location-specific information and requirements is now available.

“This technology can be easily integrated into various telematics platforms to improve driver response time and increase safety. With the new technology, drivers can keep their eyes on the road while receiving critical information on approaching conditions.”