Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new, but it is picking up speed in the fleet management space and will play a key role in transforming the industry landscape. It will, without a doubt, accelerate the rate at which Fleet Management Companies (FMCs) can deliver more value and improve the overall client experience.
Advantages & Challenges of AI Today
Newer vehicles already incorporate some AI; however, over time it will revolutionize every aspect of driving, from navigation and voice commands to autonomy, safety, and security. Today every modern car has built in computers that are used to operate the vehicle. These computers can collect information about its activity, thus providing the connected cars service provider with a wealth of information about that vehicle. The problem is that operators lack the knowledge and time to scrutinize the vast amounts of information available.
FMCs, OEMs, and telematics providers have so much to gain from advanced analysis of the data collected from the vehicles in their fleets, which today can be gathered in real time in the new age of connected cars. Some examples of this data include location, fuel consumption, mileage and driving behaviors. Currently FMCs are most likely cobbling together data from multiple IoT systems that do not talk to each other, and as a result operational, maintenance, and safety data are stored in separate databases. Consequently, reporting and analysis are done after the fact, which means both safety and the bottom line are impacted.
Where AI is Headed
AI driven management systems will continue to advance to help keep people safe on the road. A staggering number of ~ 1.3 million people die on the road every year. Today we are seeing lane-deviation safety technology being implemented by automakers. Driverless cars will push this to the next level by featuring advanced safety features like road sign recognition, auto braking, and much more to aid in the safety of passengers. Safety is a top priority for FMCs, and AI driven management systems will play a huge role in saving lives.
A report by McKinsey notes that while consumer mobility behavior is changing, only one out of ten cars will be sold in 2030 – giving rise to the idea of the shared vehicle and the ‘fit-for-purpose’ mobility solution. All of this will be fueled by AI and will radically transform the transportation industry. Self-organizing fleets, autonomous cars and trucks, and driverless Ubers are just some examples of future opportunities.
Why It’s Time to Embrace AI
The trend is to put more computing power at the edge, thus allowing one device to run analytics on multiple applications real time. This will enable the capture of more data for analysis of routes and events to find correlations with safety and operating efficiency. Operators will have a coherent view of their fleet, be able to monitor and manage them proficiently, readily detect issues, and enforce the fleet’s policies. Information gathered can be processed and analyzed to automatically learn the normal behavior of the vehicles, drivers, and fleets, making it easier to detect things like cyber threats, fraud attempts, car theft, and risky driving behaviors. Providing FMCs with visibility and insights is a game changer.
As AI technology continues to advance, FMCs will become more willing to let machines learn how to identify risk, save time, and create value in order to keep drivers safe and to drive competitive value in the marketplace.
Jeanine L. Charlton serves as Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer [CTO] at Merchants Fleet. She provides strategic leadership to all Merchants Fleet technology initiatives, to include the innovative and proprietary fleet management software – Merchants TotalView. She is focused on positioning the company for technological advancement and continued growth while creating a culture that celebrates innovation and collaboration.