How to build your own GPS vehicle tracking system?

Archer's Blog - How to build your own GPS vehicle tracking system?
If you are managing a fleet, be it a taxi or a delivery, or a logistics and distribution services, you need a GPS tracker to monitor your vehicles and plan efficient routes. How do you build a custom GPS tracking software specific to your needs and in what cases this would be a better option than an off-the-shelf solution?

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According to the report "GPS Tracking Device Market by Type, Deployment Type, Industry and Geography - Global Forecast to 2025" the GPS tracking device market is expected to reach USD 3.7 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.4% between 2017 and 2025. The factors that are driving the growth of the market include the increasing sales of commercial vehicles, small farm factors, affordable prices, and high ROI.

The use of satellites for navigation becomes more and more popular among car owners, and those who have big automobile businesses. What are the features of this technology? What benefits it can propose to the transportation industry? Does it add any benefits to your fleet management system?

Is it worthwhile to invest time and effort into the development of the custom GPS vehicles tracking system, building the hand-made GPS trackers, or using the factory-produced GPS tracker and integrating it into the custom fleet management system?

What is a GPS Vehicle Tracking System?

A GPS vehicle tracking system is a sophisticated solution that allows finding out the location of the vehicle because of the connection to the Global Positioning System. As a rule, this system comes in form of a vehicle tracking device able of GPS technology usage, real-time tracking, and instant data transfer to a connected mobile app. 
Also, there can be additional features like geofencing, driver behavior monitoring, route planning, and fuel management. 

How accurate is GPS Tracking?

Yes, modern vehicle tracking solutions are not only easy to use but are quite accurate. Under normal conditions, it is possible to get real-time data about the location of the object to within three meters. Also, the accuracy of the data transferred from the vehicle tracking devices depends on the satellite signals which can be worse in big cities because of the large buildings. In fact, the more open sky is above the object you want to track, the more accurate the data will be. 

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Operating principles of GPS vehicle tracking system

This system works as follows:

  • User installs special GPS-receiver in a vehicle
  • This receiver is connected to a smartphone
  • After installation of both devices, all the necessary information about car location and its route is transmitted to a computer (or a company server if we are talking about business) via satellite
  • This means we can easily run GPS monitoring right from the house or working place

GPS tracking system components

GPS tracking system for vehicles usually consists of the following components:

  • Mobile module consisting of two devices (receiver+phone) or a single one GPS tracker;
  • Adapter;
  • Power supply;
  • Box for the module sealing;
  • Software for the data analysis;
  • Сomputer (server);
  • Network connection;
  • For business – operator or assistant able to assemble or disassemble GPS system in the truck.

Module (GPS tracker)

A mobile module that consists of a satellite receiver and data storage unit. GPS trackers usually have a 5-second recording rate at which they can track the car movement within 180 hours (more than 7 days).

Power supply

GPS is powered by a built-in or removable battery. The ability to use additional (removable) batteries is preferable because it will help to avoid a lot of problems connected with the built-in battery failure. This is a significant advantage, and preference should be given to such GPS trackers.

But even in the case of an external power source, the GPS tracker will operate not longer than a few hours. For stable operation without any failures, the GPS unit needs to be connected to the car onboard network via the adapter. Therefore, the car adapter is a mandatory item in your GPS system.

All connections to the onboard network need to be protected from accidental or intentional disconnection. To improve the reliability of the connection it must be soldered and have only one connector – inside the sealed box.

To complicate the disconnection, the soldered point must be located at a hard-to-reach spot so even the driver wouldn’t know about its location (business case). The connection should be provided via a fuse in that network region where the voltage does not depend on the position of the ignition key.

The container for the mobile unit sealing

The sealing box must meet the following requirements:

  • Transparency. For the visual estimation of the GPS status;
  • Rigidity. To ensure the impossibility of pressing GPS control buttons;
  • The ability to provide a secure connection of an auto adapter and power chords inside a sealed box;
  • Place for power cable which comes from an onboard network;
  • Ability to secure the container in the vehicle cabin;
  • Reliable lock which will prevent inadvertent opening of the container during shaking;
  • A place for a seal.

The box must be placed inside the vehicle cabin. The location should be selected so that the internal GPS antenna won’t be shielded by metal parts of the body. If such an arrangement is impossible, try to use an external antenna.

The assistant adjusts the GPS identifier, sets recording intervals, connects all system to the onboard network, checks the operation and switches GPS to the recording mode, seals the container, and places it into the vehicle.

Pros and cons of the hand-made GPS tracker

AdvantagesDisadvantages
  • Low price
  • Possibility to replace all elements one by one if the whole item fails
  • The short life cycle
  • Insecurity use
  • Development complexity
  • Low-quality components
  • Weak hosting and a limited number of signals
  • Bulky design
  • Rapid discharge of the battery

As you can see it is still better to use a factory-produced GPS device.

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Ready-made vehicle tracking software solutions

Today GPS vehicle tracking software is usually embedded in Fleet Management Systems (FMS), and this year the top 10 solutions rated by toptenreviews.com are:

  • Verizon Networkfleet
  • Fleetistics
  • NexTraq
  • Rhino Fleet Tracking
  • CalAmp
  • Advanced Tracking Technologies, Inc.
  • Teletrac Navman
  • Brickhouse Security
  • Fleetmatics
  • Telogis

In case you did not find the right software for your fleet, our company has been dealing with IT services and accomplished hundreds of projects and have gained dozens of successful cases. You can find all of them here. Development of mobile apps and desktop apps, web-based projects for business companies, and this is only a partial list.

Value-added features of the GPS vehicle tracking system

Usually, the vehicle GPS tracking system is complemented by the features of the anti-theft system. This system analyzes such information as:

  • Vehicle coordinates changing,
  • The engine’s starts and stops,
  • Doors state (open/closed) and so on.

When a user receives an alarm, he can remotely send a command to the GPS receiver (built-in auto unit) – to turn off the engine or to turn on the siren. As we see this monitoring system is fully justified.

It seems the only "con" GPS navigation system has is the GSM technology usage. If there is no connection the car control will be lost then for some time. But, even when the GSM connection is unavailable, the data is saved to the memory of the GPS electronic unit. As a result, after a signal restoration, the device operates in a standard model. GPS system that is placed in a vehicle must consistently and reliably transmit all the information to carry out the GPS monitoring process.

Among the most common additional functions, which navigation system can be equipped with, it is important to note the following:

  • The ability to connect sensors for monitoring engine temperature and door openings.
  • The ability to connect a tachometer.
  • It is also possible to connect a variety of actuators which will provide communication between ambulance and driver, anti-theft protocols introduction, etc.
  • Fuel management. With the help of this feature, your fleet may become eco-friendlier, in addition to fuel costs cutting. 
  • Mileage tracking is necessary for tracking the technical state of the vehicle and scheduling maintenance. 
  • Routing. This feature is essential if you want to improve customer service since competent route planning (possibly with AI and ML) boosts the delivery speed, and helps to optimize pickups.
  • Incident reporting. 
  • Real-time tracking. With this feature, the manager will be able to track where the vehicle is, how the daily plan is performed, as well as manage the fleet and redirect vehicles if there is an urgent order.

As we already see, the GPS-monitoring system is a profitable investment that allows for reducing risks and transportation costs, as well as for increasing operational efficiency significantly.

Benefits of using a GPS vehicle tracking system

We listed 6 benefits of a GPS vehicle tracking system that you can get for your automotive business.

  • Reducing the repair expenditures
  • Slowing the depreciation processes
  • Increasing the cargo volume due to reducing fuel consumption costs
  • Increasing the responsibility of the employees
  • Rapid response to various abnormal situations
  • Reducing the cost of communication model “driver–the company”

In addition to it, there are a lot of offers on the market from companies that deal with GPS tracking services, so it is important to pay attention to all the technical characteristics of the system, as well as long-term warranty service support.

Benefits of using a GPS Vehicle Tracking System
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Benefits of using a GPS Vehicle Tracking System

How much does it cost to build a GPS Vehicle Tracking System?

The cost of GPS fleet tracking system development depends on many factors such as the complexity of the features you want to implement and the location of your development vendor. However, if to make average estimates, the price for a basic web solution is $80,000-$110-000 (approximately 1600-2200 hours), while the cost of a basic mobile app is $45,000-$60,000 (approximately 900-1100 hours).

As for the development team you need to hire, the fleet tracking system can be created by the joint work of the following specialists:

  • Frontend developers (Angular or React)
  • Backend developers (Phyton or Ruby on Rails)
  • Mobile developers (React Native)
  • Quality assurance specialists
  • The project manager

Cprime Studios team has more than 20 years of experience building digital automotive products. If you have one in your plans, do not hesitate to contact our hardcore managers to create something astonished.

Contact our team at studios-info@cprime.com for more information.