The evolution of the Detroit brand continued today in Redford, Mich., with Daimler Trucks North America’s unveiling of the Detroit Connect telematics system. Detroit Connect is designed to work symbiotically with Detroit’s Virtual Technician onboard diagnostics system and is in keeping with the company’s core telematics philosophy, which David Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy says is simple: To leverage proprietary data to improve a fleet or driver’s bottom line.
Detroit Connect takes an important step forward in the driver-vehicle interface with a new, Android-powered on-board tablet, developed in conjunction with Zonar. The tablet comes pre-loaded with four trucking-specific apps, including ones for navigation, hours of service, a pre- and post-trip inspection and a two-way messaging system with a safety-enhancing text-to-voice feature. The tablet comes with 8 gigabytes of available memory and can download virtually any app available today — even apps from competitive truck manufacturers. An additional 17 other truck-specific apps from Detroit Connect are also available.
The new apps were developed specifically with drivers in mind, Hames said. The pre- and post-trip inspection app allows drivers to check all vital vehicle systems and photograph any defects found and send them to the fleet maintenance section. The highly customizable navigation app includes a wide array of route selections and voice control options. You can turn off the voice prompts until you want them: Say, once you’re a selectable number of miles away from your final destination.
The system is fully integrated. So if a driver receives a two-way text message, the system automatically plays the message in voice mode over the truck’s stereo speakers. If the message contains a new destination, that information is picked up by the tablet’s navigation app and a new route is automatically calculated and displayed for the driver.
An hours of service countdown clock is permanently displayed on the tablet, which can be docked or undocked from the vehicle, and alerts him or her if they are at risk of violating FMCSA regulations. Other standard features include an integrated camera, video recording capability, Bluetooth technology, a built-in flashlight and ability to host third-party apps and future product updates.
An initial pilot-program rollout for the tablet is underway now with a full-production launch scheduled for January 2014.