IoT Insider sat down with Wialon boss Aliaksandr Kuushynau on the final day (December 7th) of Telematics Vilnius 2023 to discuss how its platform, which offers GPS tracking and IoT monitoring of vehicles and assets, plans to stay ahead with the introduction of new technologies like AI, autonomous driving, and even car manufacturers offering their own insights apps.
With autonomous driving promising to take away a lot of the inefficiencies of humans, how is Wialom preparing to still provide valuable insights for users?
Openly speaking, it’s like decades that stands between us today and the time when autonomous vehicles would be having any decent market share or any footprint on the trucking. Yes, we need to understand that for sure it will bring a major change. If you have 10 vehicles right now, you might replace let’s say two of them with autonomous vehicles, but still you have to manage all your fleet together. We combine all the data in one system, currently doing so with different vehicles like diesel and electric, and we will do the same with autonomous cars. During their initial appearance on the market, they would be a smaller part of any fleet and the fleet manager wants a single platform to manage that. That’s how we would introduce the data from autonomous vehicles in the system. And that’s how we improve the system, from slowly gathering data from these autonomous vehicles being introduced. So sooner the bigger the share of autonomous vehicles becomes, the more functionality for autonomous vehicles will be provided.
When customers come to your service providers for telematics and IoT monitoring of their fleets, is that often their first introduction to IoT?
In most of the countries, fleet managers and business owners would be aware that there is some technology exists to extract data from the vehicles and to get it somewhere in a web app on or something like that. But it is not always the case. They then find out this solution is available on the market and not only in you know, James Bond movies or stuff like this. First there are fleets that are joining us that haven’t had any GPS or IoT before, and then there are ones who are switching or upgrading their hardware. So I mean, the adoption of technologies is different in different countries, and for sure, there are some mature, conscious markets that might already had that initial stage of like a GPS instalments maybe 15-20 years ago, but there they had just some basic stuff available. So they’re just upgrading with a new features from our side with things like driver behaviour, fuel management and routing optimisation.
How is the GPS and IoT tracking industry evolving, especially with the integration of advanced technologies like AI?
AI’s eruption on to the scene a year ago has everyone rethinking its implementation into their business. We are in the process of introducing more AI based functionality, though we already have a number of specific tools in the platform that are using AI. AI, for instance, is one tool we use to validate the data to decide what to show to these users and what not to show. So it’s already there. But every day, there are new add ons or functionality being added; it gets integrated piece by piece. So you’re not switching from A to Z, you’re switching step by step. We do use AI functionality, and as Aliaksei told yesterday in his speech, we’re exploring using it in the customer interface to help with queries, but it’s not the case that it totally changes the user experience because we are working market for professional users and who have a certain understanding of the technicalities already and are using our platform not for fun, to extract decisions to improve their business.
We are also working on accumulating data to then show the best usage of vehicles for different types of vehicles so our end users can compare how good their fleet is doing in comparison to average statistics of a fleet doing similar journeys and using vehicles of the same size.
On the hardware side, we have worked with partners who have integrated AI enabled cameras to feed into our platform to provide real-time video streams from the vehicles to generate incident reports of an event, like a crash, that the intelligent system captured.
What are the key challenges facing the GPS and IoT tracking industry?
So for our partners, who go on to provide access to our platform for their customers and who provide the different hardware and such for monitoring different elements of their vehicle, the challenges are there is an evolution in the automotive sector that can infringe on their territory. 20 years ago, when this kind of technology was novel, and fleets were not aware of it, it was enough to merely provide the fleets with information of like location and some basic data on the vehicles. Now when automotive companies like BMW themselves are equipping their vehicles with tracking devices, and having other metric data monitors, and even providing the platform for the vehicle owner to view: the battery status, tyre pressure etc, I now have another outlet to see all the main data that I might be needing. All this data is becoming publicly available, so service providers of our Wialon platform will have to adapt to the new market. They need to add more value to the proposition, not just copying software that is already there, and do it on a project based approach. Working tightly with the fleet owners to better understand theirs needs, providing them with consulting, with guidance, and with ways to integrate the data they get. That is something that they you cannot get from the car manufacturer, especially as many fleets do not use purely one brand of vehicle. So in that sense, they still would need integration of data between different manufacturers to another software for that overview. Yet, this is somewhere where service providers who previously were just installing devices and providing the platform will have to transform to in order to be competitive.