Using the new tool, the navigation team vets feedback and updates maps. Photo: Omnitracs

Using the new tool, the navigation team vets feedback and updates maps. Photo: Omnitracs

PHILADELPHIA – As it repositions itself as a company offering software and solutions vs. a hardware provider, Omnitracs unveiled Omnitracs Navigation at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition.

In fact, Rick Turek, chief navigation scientist, says Omnitracs has turned itself into a “data publisher,” both collecting data and pushing data out to the device about changed routes, bad weather, new speed limits, etc.

While the unit offers what you would expect in a commercial navigation device, such as turn-by-turn directions, text-to-speech, posted speed alerts, Omnitracs Navigation goes a lot further, Turek says.

By leveraging traditional data, (e.g., posted speed and traffic light locations) combined with real-time data, (e.g., current traffic and weather conditions), and Big Data (how a particular road is used at a certain time, and "black spot” high frequency accident zones), Omnitracs Navigation delivers a more consistent, predictable, and accurate plan for maximizing the road network, according to the company.

Updates are sent to the unit automatically as the data changes so that the unit is always current.

Because all these data updates are done over the air, Turek notes, fleets don’t have the expense and downtime of trucks having to go into a shop for a “stick update” every quarter. And this data will be updated a lot more frequently — initially about twice a day, and more frequently once real-time traffic and weather information is added early next year.

Omnitracs Navigation also has a closed-loop feedback mechanism, which brings driver feedback into the data-editing process and gives them an opportunity to improve their navigation experience, along with the navigation experience of fellow drivers. Instead of the driver wondering if the company ever got his or her input, the loop is closed by informing the driver of how his or her feedback was used – or, if it wasn’t, why not. This leads to improved driver satisfaction and retention.

”Navigation has evolved with the advent of smartphones and GPS devices,” Turek says. "However, we know that current and hybrid systems aren't yet perfected and still struggle in keeping data current. Imagine not knowing that a new road has opened up or that a road's name has changed. These are the types of things that can easily frustrate drivers. Omnitracs Navigation is the next generation navigational solution that delivers current and actionable data so that drivers can do their jobs more safely and efficiently."

Through a partnership with Inrix, Omnitracs Navigation will be able to provide real-time traffic and historic traffic profiles, along with travel time and incident alerts, for every major road type including highways, arterials and city streets. Infix combines information from connected vehicles and other public and private sources to provide real-time traffic that covers more than 5 million miles in 42 countries. Omnitracs Navigation will launch with Infix Traffic XD Profiles, followed by real-time traffic and incidents.

Turek, who was CTO of Maptuit, is excited about future possibilities. the company will be very aggressive in developing on the Android platform, so drivers could do things like check their route on their smartphone while eating dinner in a truckstop.

He foresees a future where drivers will interact with their devices like the iPhone’s Siri or Amazon’s new Echo device. They already are prototyping speech recognition, and exploring the potential use of heads-up displays. “We need to be thought leaders.”