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Smarter Navigation an Important Tool for a Modern Transport Solution

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Heavy vehicle operators across Australia could soon be able to make faster, more informed decisions about the routes they need to adhere to. Although trial of Transtech’s SmartNav with VicRoads and Transport Certification Australia (TCA) has only just commenced, TCA has already announced that it is working with other road and transport agencies, as well as the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), to allow road attribute information to be made available in a standardised, consistent format across the country.  

SmartNav uses geospatial data obtained from VicRoads, which is used by Transtech to provide turn-by-turn navigation via a heavy vehicle’s in-cabin IFace device. The vehicle’s type, height, weight and dimensions are taken into account and the device then guides the driver to their destination using the most compliant and efficient route.

Although there are GPS truck tracking systems currently available, these are not necessarily tailored to reflect Australia’s wide variety of roads, from freeways to dirt roads, and the range of heavy vehicle types, which are among the most diverse anywhere in the world. All of this must be factored into route planning and a driver could find that the B-Double they drove one day has been uncoupled the next, which means they can access a different range of roads.

Why SmartNav is Different

SmartNav takes this to the next level by using road attribute data provided by VicRoads and combining it with information about different truck types, such as a B Double– or even mobile cranes. It also takes into account whether it’s approved under the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme or eligible for High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs) arrangements

This means the approved road network for each type of vehicle is referenced and can guide the driver to their destination via approved routes. If the truck strays from these, both the driver and transport operators can be notified. This way, a truck driver will be alerted in real-time before crossing a bridge that’s not built to take its weight, or block traffic because they’ve hit the roof of a tunnel with a clearance height that’s lower than the height of their vehicle.

“It may surprise some that route guidance systems which cater for the diversity of heavy vehicle combinations does not yet exist in Australia – let alone any part of the world, “Gavin Hill, general manager of strategic development at TCA, told the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in Melbourne recently.

While information about road restrictions is already available, it’s often incomplete, or presented in manner which does’t easily assist drivers. For example, a driver taking an unfamiliar route had no choice but to download a PDF of the restrictions in place and figure out which roads they could access prior to their trip, resulting in a labour-intensive process

Critically, the data that is currently available from road agencies is not presented in a format which can be readily used by telematics providers such as Transtech.

SmartNav was developed under the Victorian Government’s Industry Framework for Road Freight ITS and Intelligent Systems, which was announced by the Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and Ports, the Hon Luke Donnellan MP, in early 2015. TCA received 13 submissions under the framework, with Transtech’s request that road agency information be freely available to telematics companies being one of only two selected for shortlisting through the Framework, primarily because it had immediate applications and benefits to the road transport sector.

“Some of the applications we got were researchers and vendors with exciting technology ideas, but didn’t necessarily respond to anyone’s problem,” Hill says. “The Industry Framework was focussed on using innovative applications of technology by the road freight sector to improve the management of heavy vehicle transport in Victoria. This is why Transtech was successful: it identified and responded to a need.”

“Through the Industry Framework, it was recognised that through Transtech’s established relationships with transport operators, through the provision of regulatory telematics services, such as the Intelligent Access Program (IAP), means the provision of route guidance information using VicRoads data could be readily deployed. This provides immediate benefits to heavy vehicle drivers.”

Next Step National

TCA is working to establish a consistent, standardised approach to the provision and updating of information through the National Telematics Framework, so telematics providers such as Transtech (a subsidiary of Teletrac Navman) can provide reliable in-cab information to drivers.

Similar to the way the Telematics Data Dictionary establishes a common ‘language’ for telematics providers, TCA’s work will focus on the establishing a standardised approach for road managers to make road attribute information available to telematics providers.

It’s an important step for telematics and the transport industry as a whole. Compliance and safety is, rightly, an increasing area of focus for legislation, but it falls to transport operators to figure out how to keep within the bounds of guidelines, while simultaneously keeping an eye on their bottom line.

Peter Anderson, chief executive officer of the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), noted at the trial’s launch that operators face the challenge of navigating heavy vehicles through increasing city traffic. They must also deal with the complexities of a public that relies on deliveries but is quick to complain about trucks rumbling down their street at all hours of the night.

More intelligent systems are one way to achieve this balance, according to Anderson. “The real outcomes of this technology is improvement on the average travel time to destination, reduction of on road accidents and the increase in capacity of heavy vehicles in meeting customer expectations. The community, the customers and the operators are all winners,” he says.

For this to happen, technology like SmartNav needs to go national.

Watch our latest video to learn more about SmartNav:Route or download our Transport Compliance eBook

*Please note, the functionality mentioned in this article is for SmartNav: Route, which is currently only available in Victoria. This is not to be confused with SmartNav, a turn-by-turn navigation tool. 


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