GB2407918A - Processing unit and vehicle management system - Google Patents

Processing unit and vehicle management system Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2407918A
GB2407918A GB0424098A GB0424098A GB2407918A GB 2407918 A GB2407918 A GB 2407918A GB 0424098 A GB0424098 A GB 0424098A GB 0424098 A GB0424098 A GB 0424098A GB 2407918 A GB2407918 A GB 2407918A
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GB
United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
vehicle
processing unit
arranged
means
method
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Granted
Application number
GB0424098A
Other versions
GB0424098D0 (en
GB2407918B (en
Inventor
Michael Clark
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
* MOVIT SYSTEMS Ltd
MOVIT SYSTEMS Ltd
Original Assignee
Movit Systems Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GBGB0325559.3A priority Critical patent/GB0325559D0/en
Application filed by Movit Systems Ltd filed Critical Movit Systems Ltd
Publication of GB0424098D0 publication Critical patent/GB0424098D0/en
Publication of GB2407918A publication Critical patent/GB2407918A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of GB2407918B publication Critical patent/GB2407918B/en
Application status is Expired - Fee Related legal-status Critical
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS IN VEHICLES
    • B60K35/00Arrangement of adaptations of instruments
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS IN VEHICLES
    • B60K37/00Dashboards
    • B60K37/04Arrangement of fittings on dashboard
    • B60K37/06Arrangement of fittings on dashboard of controls, e.g. controls knobs
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • G06F1/18Packaging or power distribution
    • G06F1/183Internal mounting support structures, e.g. for printed circuit boards, internal connecting means
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/03Arrangements for converting the position or the displacement of a member into a coded form
    • G06F3/033Pointing devices displaced or positioned by the user, e.g. mice, trackballs, pens or joysticks; Accessories therefor
    • G06F3/0354Pointing devices displaced or positioned by the user, e.g. mice, trackballs, pens or joysticks; Accessories therefor with detection of 2D relative movements between the device, or an operating part thereof, and a plane or surface, e.g. 2D mice, trackballs, pens or pucks
    • G06F3/03549Trackballs
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G1/00Traffic control systems for road vehicles
    • G08G1/20Monitoring the location of vehicles belonging to a group, e.g. fleet of vehicles, countable or determined number of vehicles
    • G08G1/202Dispatching vehicles on the basis of a location, e.g. taxi dispatching
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05KPRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
    • H05K5/00Casings, cabinets or drawers for electric apparatus
    • H05K5/02Details
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS IN VEHICLES
    • B60K2370/00Details of arrangements or adaptations of instruments specially adapted for vehicles, not covered by groups B60K35/00, B60K37/00
    • B60K2370/10Input devices or features thereof
    • B60K2370/11Graphical user interfaces or menu aspects
    • B60K2370/113Scrolling through menu items
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS IN VEHICLES
    • B60K2370/00Details of arrangements or adaptations of instruments specially adapted for vehicles, not covered by groups B60K35/00, B60K37/00
    • B60K2370/10Input devices or features thereof
    • B60K2370/11Graphical user interfaces or menu aspects
    • B60K2370/117Cursors
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS IN VEHICLES
    • B60K2370/00Details of arrangements or adaptations of instruments specially adapted for vehicles, not covered by groups B60K35/00, B60K37/00
    • B60K2370/50Control arrangements; Data network features
    • B60K2370/58Data transfers
    • B60K2370/589Wireless
    • B60K2370/5899Internet
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS IN VEHICLES
    • B60K2370/00Details of arrangements or adaptations of instruments specially adapted for vehicles, not covered by groups B60K35/00, B60K37/00
    • B60K2370/60Structural details of dashboards or instruments
    • B60K2370/67Foldable or movable displays

Abstract

A processing unit, particularly for use in a vehicle, has a case with a removable cover 102a with some components 312-318 being mounted on a tray 308 which is movable to give access to other components 320,322,324. The tray may be carried by spring-loaded pivots 308. The unit may be part of a system (Fig 7) by which a fleet of courier vehicles are controlled by a central computer, the computer monitoring the position of each vehicle by means of the internet using a GPS device 314 in each unit and sending instructions to the vehicles on sites to visit. The application also discloses an input mouse (Figs 5a-d) with holes which receive two fingers and which does not need to be rolled on a surface. There is also disclosed a method of providing access to the internet, e.g. in a vehicle-borne unit, in which the fee is decreased according to the number of advertisements received, e.g. relating to places being passed on the route, increases.

Description

l 1 2407918

COMPUTER SYSTEM AND METHODS OF USING SUCH SYSTEM

This invention relates to a computer system in particular, but not exclusively, for use in a vehicle. Applications of the computer system include managing a fleet of vehicles, which may be courier vehicles, providing web-based services to vehicles, which may or may not be courier vehicles and providing mobile web-based services perhaps at variable fees.

Mobile computer systems such as Laptop and Palmtop computers are becoming common as people expect to have access to the services that computer systems provide at all times. These services include entertainment, such as can be provided by Digital Video Discs (DVDs), music from Compact Discs (CDs) and access to the Internet. Further, computer systems are now often used in the course of business, for example in producing word processed documents and in communication via e-mail or electronic facsimile.

Fleets of vehicles are well known and inefficient use of such vehicle fleets has been a problem for many years. A particular cause of inefficiency is causing vehicles to make journeys whilst empty when there is an opportunity for them to make the same journey with a load. If this problem can be alleviated then there is a potential for savings in fuel, savings in wear and tear on the vehicle and potentially a greater chance of satisfying customers that use the fleet of vehicles.

Further, although many computer system components are known it is not easy to use some components in certain environments. In particular the interior of a vehicle, such as a car, can provide a challenging environment for traditional computer devices, such as a mouse, and the like.

According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a processing unit comprising a case to contain components of the processing unit and a removable cover allowing a user to gain access to the interior of the case, the interior of the case being provided with a movable tray and the components being arranged such that some components are mounted on the tray and other components are mounted such that movement of the tray together with the components mounted thereon provides access to the other components.

Such a unit is advantageous because it facilitates easy access to the components within the unit. Providing the tray may allow the case to be reduced in size and yet still allow easy access to the components.

Preferably the processing unit is arranged to be placed within a vehicle, such as a car, van, lorry, or the like. A unit according to the invention may be advantageous in such an environment since there will generally be a trend to reduce the size of the unit and thus the advantages of easy access to the components inside the unit may become more apparent.

The tray may be mounted using one or more mounting means which may comprise spring means. Such spring means may comprise springs, resilient materials (e.g. a plastics foam), pneumatics or the like.

Generally, the tray will be mounted on the spring means. However, it is equally possible to suspend the tray from the spring means. The spring means is advantageous because it will help protect components mounted on the tray from damage or incorrect operation due to shocks to the unit.

It will be appreciated that in a mobile environment as provided by a vehicle that shocks are much more likely when compared to a static environment such as a building.

The unit may be arranged such that components having moving parts therein are mounted upon the tray. Such an arrangement is advantageous since it is these components that are likely to gain from the shock absorbing nature of the spring means. The examples of components having a moving part include hard drives; optical drives including CD and DVD drives; tape drives; floppy drives, and the like.

The tray may be removable from the unit. It is advantageous to make the tray removable in order to provide greater access to the other components.

The tray may be arranged such that it is pivotably mounted at a first edge region, which provides an arrangement on which movement of the tray constitutes rotation about the pivotable mount.

Conveniently the pivotable mount may be removed and/or the tray may be releasable from the pivotable mount. Such an arrangement is convenient since it allows the tray to be moved and if further access to the other components is required this allows the tray to be removed.

In one embodiment the tray is roughly rectangular, or square, in plan and a mounting means is provided in a region of corners of the rectangle, In one embodiment a mounting means comprises a rod attached, preferably pivotably attached, to the tray arranged to be received within a guide provided on the case. The guide may comprise a blind bore, or other structure arranged to receive the rod therein. Alternatively, the rod may be hollow and be arranged to receive a guide therein. The rod may provide the spring means. Alternatively, the spring means may be associated with the guide means.

According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a processing unit arranged to be fitted in a vehicle and comprising a vehicle monitoring means arranged to determine the position of a vehicle in which the processing unit is fitted and a connection means arranged to allow the processing unit to communicate with a remote computer system.

Conveniently, the vehicle monitoring means comprises a GPS receiver arranged to determine the position of the vehicle. The vehicle monitoring means may be arranged to forward the position of the vehicle (which may be via a processor or other means) to via the connection means to a remote computer system. Alternatively, or additionally, the vehicle monitoring means may be arranged to forward the position of the vehicle to a processor which may be arranged to process the position of the vehicle and generate additional data. For example, the processing unit may be arranged to generate any one or more of the following: speed of the vehicle; average speed of the vehicle; distance travelled by the vehicle (total and/or trip); estimated arrival time; time until arrival; or any other similar data. The processing unit may be arranged to transmit any data that is calculated by the processing unit to the remote computer system.

As such the processing unit may provide a unit that forms part of a telematics system.

It may be advantageous to calculate the data within the processing unit in the vehicle because such information may be useful for a driver of the vehicle and processing the data locally may reduce the processing load on the remote computer system. This load could be large as there may be any number of processing units sending data to the remote computer system.

Of course, if the position of the vehicle is transmitted to the remote computer system then the remote computer system may calculate the data mentioned above.

Preferably, the processing unit comprises a display means, which provides a means for information to be displayed to a user thereof. For example, the display means may be arranged to display information to a driver of the vehicle.

The connection means may comprise a GPRS, UMTS, GSM, or any other suitable wireless transmission protocol. Such a connection is convenient because it allows the processing unit to make a connection to a remote computer system whilst on the move and from many parts of the country and indeed the many parts of the world.

Conveniently, the processing unit may be arranged to receive email.

Such an arrangement provides a convenient way for the processing unit to receive data from remote computer systems.

The processing unit may comprise one or more hardware components, the or each of component being arranged to perform one or more of the following: receive data, collect data, process data, read data, transmit data.

Advantageously, at least one of the or each hardware components is arranged on a mounting wherein said mounting comprises shock suspension. This is advantageous because, when the processing unit is fitted into a vehicle, the movement of the vehicle may subject the processing unit to jogging which could damage and cause errors in the 1 1 performance of any hardware components. Providing shock suspension could protect any hardware components.

The shock suspension could be provided by one or more spring means which may be springs, resilient material (e.g. a plastics foam), pneumatics or the like.

At least one of the hardware components may be arranged on a moveable mounting. This is advantageous as it may allow easier access to some of the hardware components or to other components of the processing unit.

The movable mounting may be hinged and or may be removable from a housing of the processing unit.

According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a vehicle management system comprising computer system which comprises a location determining means arranged to receive vehicle position data from at least one remote processing unit fitted to a vehicle, an input means arranged to have information input thereto and a processing means arranged to process information provided by the location determining means and the input means, the or each processing unit comprising a connection means arranged to connect the processing unit to the computer system and a computer monitoring means arranged to determine the position of the vehicle in which it is fitted, such that the connection means can pass the vehicle position to the location determining means on the computer system.

According to a fourth aspect of the invention there is provided a computer readable medium containing instructions which when read on to a computer cause that computer to perform the method of the ninth aspect of the invention.

According to a fifth aspect of the invention there is provided a computer readable medium containing instructions which when read on to a computer cause that computer to function as the computer system of the tenth aspect of the invention.

According to a sixth aspect of the invention there is provided a computer readable medium containing instruction which when read onto a computer cause that computer to function as the processing unit of the second aspect of the invention.

The computer readable medium may comprise any one of the following, nonexclusive list, or any other suitable medium: a floppy disc; a CDROM; a DVD ROM/RAM including +RW, +R, -R. -RW; a memory; a memory stick or other memory card; any form of magneto-optical disc; a hard drive; a wire; a transmitted signal (including an Internet download, ftp transfer, or the like).

According to a seventh aspect of the invention there is provided a controller arranged to generate data indicative of the motion of a user's digit said controller comprising a body upon which a motion detection means is mounted, said body being arranged to be temporarily held by one or more digits of a user's hand so as to hold the motion detection means adjacent a digit of that hand.

The body may hold the motion detection means adjacent a thumb of a user's hand. Such an arrangement may provide a convenient controller for a user to operate. l

The body may also comprise a digit engaging means arranged to allow a user to hold the controller using one and preferably two fingers of his/her hand.

In a preferred embodiment, the body comprises one or more holes therein, perhaps therethrough. Such holes provide the finger engaging means. The or each hole may be arranged to receive a digit, preferably a finger, of a users hand. Such an arrangement provides a convenient manner to temporarily engage a user's hand.

In perhaps the preferred embodiment the motion detection means comprises a track ball. However, the skilled person will appreciate that the motion detection means may also be other means including a joystick, a touch pad, one or more light beams and/or photo-detectors, or any other suitable means for detecting movement of the digit of a user.

Preferably, the controller is arranged to connect to a computer. As such, the controller may be provided with a connector arranged to connect to a computer. For example, the connector may be a PS2 connector, a USB (Universal Serial Bus) connector, a 9pin serial connector or any other suitable connector. Indeed, the controller may be arranged to connect to a computer, or other device, via a wireless technology. Such wireless technologies include Bluetooth_, other radio links, IRDA, WIFI, or the like.

According to a eighth aspect of the invention there is provided a method of providing access to the internal comprising increasing the fee levied for the access to the Internet as the amount of advertising provided on the connection is reduced.

Advertising provided by this method may be location based as well as nonlocation based. Examples of location based advertising include advertising restaurants, shops and other services that are available in the locality of the user receiving the advertising.

Conveniently, the amount of advertising is judged on a volume per time basis. For example, the volume may be given by any of the following criteria: the number of adverts, the size of the data (for example in the number of bytes, or the like).

According to a ninth aspect of the invention there is provided a method of managing one or more vehicles comprising providing a computer system having a location determining means arranged to determine the location of a vehicle, an input means arranged to have information input thereto and a processing means arranged to process information provided by the location determining and/or the input means, the method comprising: causing the location determining means to determine the location of the or each vehicle; inputting to the input means the location of at least one site that it is desired that at least one vehicle from the fleet should visit; causing the processing means to compare the location of the or each vehicle and the location of the or each site; and further causing the processing means to determine, based on the comparison, the route of the or each vehicle in the fleet or further causing the processing means to display the location of the or each vehicle and the or each site on a display means and prompting an operator for an input, and further being arranged to receive an input as to the route of the or each vehicle in the fleet.

Such an arrangement is advantageous because it may lead to more efficient use of resources, perhaps resources within a company, or the like. Previously, it has not been readily apparent as to the locations of vehicles and as such they may not have been directed to make the most of their position. If more efficient routing of the vehicle can be achieved then it may be possible to make savings in fuel, make a driver of the vehicle more productive, reduce wear and tear on the vehicle, etc. In a preferred embodiment, the location determining means collects data from the or each vehicle in order to determine the location thereof. Such a method is more convenient because it helps to automate the process and may make it more accurate and quicker; if the data is sent from the vehicle then it is less likely to be mix-entered and may be entered more quickly.

The, or each, vehicle may be provided with a processing unit which may be capable of connecting to the computer system. TheRprocessing unit may comprise a computer, which may be a PC, an Apples a proprietary design. Indeed, it may be any suitable arrangement of computer.

In one embodiment the or each processing unit connects to the computer system via an Internet connection.

Conveniently, the method connects the processing unit to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and the method may arrange the processing unit to acquire data from the GPS receiver which is sent to the computer system thereby allowing the computer system to determine the location of the or each vehicle. Such a method is convenient because it provides a convenient yet accurate manner to locate the position of each vehicle. Such a method provides data for the location determining means.

In an alternative, or additional, embodiment the computer system and/or the processing unit may prompt a user thereof for a position.

In yet a further embodiment, the processing unit may be connected to any one or more of the following: gyroscopes, accelerometers, shaft encoders, and any other similar means that allow the position of the vehicle to be determined and/or tracked. The method may cause the processing unit to determine the position of the or each vehicle and send the position to the computer system.

Methods that do not rely on a means external of the computer system/vehicle system may be advantageous because they do not rely on things that are beyond the control of the system (such as GPS satellites).

The method may provide the computer system with a remote access means. The remote access means may constitute the input means and may allow data for at least one site to be entered onto the computer system.

Such a remote access means may be advantageous because it allows users that are not in the same location as the computer system to enter sites to the computer system which is likely to make the method more flexible and easier to use.

Conveniently, the remote access means comprises a connection to a network, which may be the Internet. A network connection, and especially an Internet connection, may be advantageous because they are a convenient means of allowing remote connections to be made to the computer system which are familiar to a large number of people and as such may be readily useable.

The method may provide a web site, which may or may not be provided on the computer system, which allows users to input details of the at least one site that it is desired for at least one vehicle from the fleet should visit.

Conveniently, the web site comprises at least one form which users can complete in order to provide details of the at least one site that it is desired for the at least one vehicle to visit. The form provides a user interface that is both easy for a user to operate when compared to other methods and may provide a faster means in which data can be input since it will be quickly apparent to a user what data is required.

In alternative, or additional, embodiments the computer system may prompt a user to input data into the computer system in order that the details of the at least one site that it is desired for the at least one vehicle to visit can be entered onto the system. Such an arrangement may provide for a more flexible method in that it may allow data to be entered by an operator (that may for example receive data via a telephone call) as well as or perhaps instead of via the network connection.

The method may cause the computer system to generate a communication to be sent at least one vehicle of a fleet. The communication may contain instructions that direct the vehicle to one or more sites. The use of such a communication may make the method more efficient and faster than if other means of directing the vehicles to the, or each, site were used.

In perhaps the preferred embodiment, the method is arranged to generate emails which are sent to the processing unit in the or each vehicle.

Emails are convenient because they rely on known technology that can be readily implemented.

Conveniently, the method causes the computer system to determine the expected arrival time of the or each vehicle at a site to which the vehicle has been directed. Estimated arrival times can be useful for keeping users of the system informed and may promote user satisfaction of the system.

The computer system may output information as to the location of the or each vehicle. Again, this may promote user satisfaction of the system since he/she will be able to determine the progress of the or each vehicle.

In some embodiments, the location of the or each vehicle may be plotted on a web site. Such an arrangement provides a method that will be readily useable by a large number of users since use of the World Wide Web (or web in short) is becoming commonplace.

The method may cause the computer system to determine the average speed of the or each vehicle of which it is aware. Further, the method may cause the computer system to periodically calculate the estimated arrival time of the vehicle at the site to which it is headed based upon the average speed. Should the estimated arrival time fall outside predetermined parameters then a user of the system may be alerted that the arrival time may not be as expected. The alert may be by any of the following mechanisms: display of an alert on a display of the computer system; posting of the alert on the web site; generation of an email; generation of a text message; or by any other suitable mechanism.

The method may cause the computer system to determine when the or each vehicle arrives at the site to which it has been directed by the system. This determination may by use of the location determining means. In alternative, or additional embodiments, the processing unit may send a communication to the computer system indicating that the vehicle has arrived at the site.

Conveniently, the method may cause the computer system to record data relating to vehicles that it is monitoring. Such recording is useful since it provides traceability for vehicles that are being managed by the method.

Further, the method may be arranged to generate billing from the data that has been recorded in relation to vehicles that are monitored.

In one embodiment the method manages courier vehicles and the billing that is generated by the method may be for the delivery of courier packages. In alternative embodiments, the system may monitor taxis, or other commercial vehicles and billing may be generated according to the journey of the vehicle.

According to an tenth aspect of the invention there is provided a computer system comprising a location determining means arranged to generate vehicle position data for at least one vehicle, an input means arranged to allow data to be input to the computer system, and a processing means arranged to process data input to the input means and vehicle position data determined by the location determining means, the computer system being arranged to process at least one set of vehicle position data together with data of at least one site that has been input to the input means and arranged to: i. generate a route for the or each vehicle; and/or ii. display on a display means a prompt to prompt an operator for an input, and further being arranged to receive an input to the input means of a route for the or each vehicle.

An embodiment of the invention is now described by way of example only and with reference to the following Figures of which: Figure 1 shows a processing unit according to one embodiment of the present invention in a first configuration; Figure 2 shows the processing unit of Figure 1 in a second configuration; Figure 3 shows schematically an exploded view of the processing unit of Figure 1; Figure 4 shows a power supply according to one embodiment of the present invention; Figure 5a and 5b show views of a mouse arranged according to a first embodiment of the present invention; Figure 5c and 5d show views of a mouse arranged according to a second embodiment of the present invention; Figure 6 represents some uses of one aspect of the present invention; Figure 7 shows a flowchart outlining the processes involved in carrying out one embodiment of the present example; Figure 1 shows a processing unit 100 adapted to be carried in a car, van, water borne vessel, air borne vessel, or some other vehicle. The unit 100 comprises a substantially cuboid metal casing 102 and a smaller cuboid display means 104. In this example, the metal casing 102 is fabricated from aluminium. The display means 104 is attached to an upper face of the casing 102 at a hinge 106 along an edge of the display means 104. In the configuration of Figure 1, the display means is folded such that it lies flat against the casing 102. In Figure 2, the display means 104 is shown in the position it would occupy in use of the unit 100 and has been rotated about the hinge 106 such that it stands proud of the casing 102.

Of course, in other embodiments the display means 104 may be provided remote from the casing 102. For example, the casing 102 may be provided in a storage compartment of the vessel (for example the boot of a car) and the display means 104 may be provided adjacent a driver of the vehicle.

The casing 102 further comprises a floppy disc slot 108 and a compact disc slot 110. The floppy disc slot 108 and the compact disc slot 110 are rectangular portions cut out from a side face of the casing 102 and are arranged, in use of the unit 100, to allow discs to be inserted into components arranged behind the slots 108, 110. The casing 102 further comprises a grating portion 302 and a power socket 304, as can be seen in Figure 3. Further, the system comprises an on/off switch and a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port arranged to allow a mouse, or other pointing device, to be used in conjunction with the unit 100 (not shown).

As can be seen in Figure 2, the display means 104 comprises a screen 202, which in this example is a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screen. The screen 202, which in the configuration of Figure 1 was not visible as it was lying adjacent to the casing 102, can now be seen by a user of the unit 100.

Figure 3 shows the internal components of the unit 100 in a schematic fashion. The casing 102 is shown to comprise two parts: an upper shell 102a and a lower shell 102b. The upper shell 102a comprises four faces of the cuboid- the top and three attached side faces. The lower shell 102b comprises the base and the remaining side face of the casing 102. When assembled, the upper shell 102a and the lower shell 102b are held together by screws (not shown), but other fastening devices could equally be used.

The casing 102 houses an upper component rack 308. The upper component rack 308 provides a moveable, and in this case a removable, tray. The rack 308 and the lower shell 102b are arranged to support a number of components. The lower shell 102a of the casing 102 comprises four mounting means 309 arranged to support the weight of the upper component rack. Each mounting means 309 comprises a hollow cylinder providing a blind bore and therefore acts as a guide and houses a helical spring 307 which provides a spring means. Two of the mounting means contain support columns 309a supported within the mounting 309 means 309 on the helical spring 307 contained therein. The support columns 309a are arranged such that they protrude beyond the mounting means and are further arranged such that the upper component rack 308 can be rested thereon. The upper component rack 308 comprises two legs 308a (. Each leg 308a is pivotally mounted on the upper component rack 308 at a pivot point 308b and is suitable sized to be received within the mounting means 309. When the unit 100 is fully assembled, the legs 308a are inserted into two of the support columns 309 and the upper component rack 308 is further supported by the support columns 309a.

The springs 307 therefore comprise a suspension means and, in use of the unit 100 damp the vertical vibrations of the upper component rack 308.

Resilient pads 317, such as from felt or other material, are mounted on top of at least some of the components 312, 314, 316, 318. When the upper shell 102a of the casing is in place on the lower shell 102b with the upper component rack 308 in place the resilient pads 317 are arranged to contact an under side of the upper shell 102a so aiming to prevent excessive movement of the upper component rack 308.

In use, and in order to gain access to the components, a user removes the upper shell 102a from the lower shell 102b. The upper component rack 308 is then presented to the user and is arranged such that both of the legs308a is within a mounting means 309 and upper component rack 308 is further supported by the support columns 309a. Since the legs 308a are pivotably mounted upon the upper component rack 308, a user is free to lift the upper component rack 308 from support columns 309a and to rotate the rack 308 about the two legs 308a in order to tilt the rack 308 to gain access to the components on the lower shell 102b. If further access is required then the two legs 308a can be removed from the mounting means 309 so that the upper component rack 308 is removed from the casing 102.

The component rack 306 and the lower shell 102b are arranged to support the following components: a power supply unit (PSU) 312, a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit 314, a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) 316, a Floppy Disc Drive (FDD) 318, a Compact Disc (CD) drive 320, a video driver 322, a motherboard 323. Components such as memory (ROM and RAM) 324, processing apparatus 326 and an Input/Output (I/O) subsystem 328 are mounted upon the motherboard 323. The components communicate via system buses (not shown) to the motherboard 323 as will be appreciated to the person skilled in the art.

Conveniently, the motherboard 323 follows the micro ATX format since this is more compact and perhaps therefore more suitable for providing a processing unit suitable for fitting in a vehicle. One particular supplier of a suitable motherboard is Shuttle.

The components 312-328 are arranged to be easily replaced in the event of failure or if the user wishes to upgrade their system. The PSU 312 is arranged to be adjacent to the grating portion 302 and socket 304. The FDD is arranged to be adjacent to the floppy disc slot 108. The CD Drive 320 is arranged to be adjacent compact disc slot 110.

The power supply unit (PSU) 312 is shown in greater detail in Figure 4.

The PSU 312 comprises a metal box 400 incorporating into the box a grill 402, a vent 404 and an input 406. The box 400 houses a cooling fan 408 arranged near the grill 402 and adjacent to the vent 404. In use of the unit 100, the fan 208 operates to cool processing apparatus in the PSU 312. The hot air can escape the casing 102 via the grating portion 302.

The PSU 312 further comprises five outputs as outlined below: Output V1 + 5 Volts DC within 5% over the current range 1 to 14 Amps Output V2 + 12 Volts DC within 5% over the current range 500mA to 4 Amps Output V3 -12 Volts DC within 10% over the current range OA to 300mA. Ripple not to exceed 100mV peak to peak Output V4 -5 Volts DC within 5% over the current range OA to 200mA. Ripple not to exceed 50mV peak to peak Output V5 +5 Volts DC standby supply within Do over the current range OA to 1.5A. Ripple not to exceed 50mV peak to peak The skilled person will be aware that the outputs are used for different purposes- for example digital circuits may require a 5 volt input whereas the motors in a disc drive generally require a 12 volt input.

The input voltage is nominally 13.8V (that supplied by a standard car battery). Normal operation is specified at that voltage. However, as it is proposed to run the unit 100 from a car battery, the voltage supplied by which is prone to variation, the unit operates over the range for lOV DC to 18V DC, and will not be damaged by voltages between -23 and +23 volts. It will be appreciated that, in other embodiments, the PSU 312 may be intended for use with trucks and therefore arranged to operate in the range 24-28V, or higher. Further, the PSU 312 may be arranged to be powered by a mains supply of 115V or 230V, with a tap-changer to change between the two.

The PSU 312 is connected to a back-up battery outside the PSU 312, perhaps inside the casing 102. The back-up battery is a Sealed Lead Acid battery, which is provided which a switch to isolate the back-up battery to avoid discharge when the unit 100 is not in use.

There is also provided an Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) filter as a hardware module, which enables the PSU 312 to meet the EN55022, AU243 or equivalent standards.

Isolation between the computer circuits and the vehicle display (i.e. the dashboard display in the vehicle) is also provided. The resistance between the input and the output is at least lOMegaohms at 500V DC.

Galvanic isolation between all electrical circuits and the metal work is also provided. Again, the resistance is at least lOMegaohms at 500V DC.

The PSU 312 may be arranged for multi-stage charging and to issue warnings if minimum/maximum voltage limits were exceeded.

Figures 5a and 5b show a first embodiment of a controller 500 arranged for use with the unit 100 according to one embodiment of the present invention. Figures 5c and 5d show a second embodiment of such a controller 500a.

Referring first to Figures 5a and 5b, the controller 500 is arranged such that it need not be run over a surface. The controller 500 comprises a body 502 fabricated from a plastics material and arranged to be held in a user's right hand. The body 502 also comprises a first finger hole 504 and a second finger hole 506 passing through the body 502 and as such holes are provided for two digits of a user's hand such that the mouse can be temporarily held by these two digits. The controller 500 further comprises a tracker ball 508, a 'left click' button 510, a 'right click' button 512 and a cable 514.

The first finger hole 504 and the second finger hole 506 are arranged to allow the insertion of the index and middle fingers of user of the controller 500 respectively. In use of the controller 500, the index and middle fingers are so inserted and the thumb and ring finger of the user rest against the external surface of the body 502 of the controller 500.

The 'left click' button 510 is situated inside the first finger hole 504 and is arranged to be actuable by an index finger inserted into the first finger hole 504. The tracker ball 508 and the 'right click' button 512 are operable by the thumb of user. The cable 514 is terminated at a USB connector and is adapted to be connected to USB port of the unit 100.

The controller 500 comprises internal components similar to those found in a standard mouse, which parts will be readily understood by the skilled person. The tracker ball 508 is arranged to provide a signal to the processing apparatus 326 which controls the movement of a pointer on the screen 202 and the 'right click' button 512 and 'left click' button 510 are operated to perform various functions, such as selecting text, actuating a link to a website, formatting text, selecting an option from a menu, etc. Referring now to Figures 5c and 5d, the controller 500a is again arranged such that it need not be run over a surface and comprises a body 502a fabricated from a plastics material and arranged to be held in a user's right hand. The body 502a also comprises a first finger hole 504a and a second finger hole 506a passing through the body 502a and as such holes are provided for two digits of a user's hand such that the mouse can be temporarily held by these two digits. The controller 500a further comprises a tracker ball 508a, a 'left click' button 510a, a 'right click' button 512a, a scroll button 513a and a cable 514a.

The first finger hole 504a and the second finger hole 506a are arranged to allow the insertion of the middle and ring fingers of user of the controller 500a respectively. In use of the controller 500a, the middle and ring fingers are so inserted and the thumb, index finger and little finger of the user rest against the external surface of the body 502a of the controller 500a.

The 'left click' button 510a and the 'right click' button 512a are situated beside the tracker ball 508a and are arranged to be actuable by the thumb of a user. The scroll button 513a is arranged to be operable by the index finger of the user. The cable 514a is terminated at a USB connector 515a and is adapted to be connected to USB port of the unit 100.

The tracker ball 508a, 'left click' button 510a and 'right click' button 512a operate as described in relation to the first embodiment of a controller 500. The scroll button 513a is arranged to provide a signal to the processing apparatus 326 which controls the view on the screen 202, in particular for viewing a document which can not be viewed in its entirety on the screen 202.

In use of the system, the unit 100 can be employed as a multimedia access means as is shown in Figure 6. In one example, CD-ROMS or Digital Video Discs (DVDs) are placed in the CD Drive 320 and the information held thereon displayed on the screen 202. In an alternative example, the screen 202 comprises a touch sensitive screen and displays an electronic representation of a keyboard and the unit 100 is used for word processing, i.e. for composing written documents. In a further example, speech recognition software is provided such that the unit can be controlled by voice commands or documents can be dictated to the screen 202.

Also shown in Figure 6 are a mobile telephone 602 and a computer system 604 often referred to as a server along with a representation of the Internet 600. The mobile telephone 602 comprises appropriate software to communicate with the unit 100 using Bluetooth_protocols and with the Internet 600 using Wireless Access Protocol (WAP). The computer system 604 comprises a remote data storage device arranged to provide the data stored thereon in reply to request received over the Internet 600.

Information can therefore be accessed from the computer system 604 by a user of the unit 100 via the mobile telephone 602. In this example, the processing apparatus 326 is supplied with Bluetooth_ software such that it can communicate wirelessly with peripheral devices equipped with suitable software that are within a certain distance of the unit 100- normally of around 10 meters. In the example of Figure 6, the unit 100 is arranged to access the Internet 600 via the mobile telephone 602. In other embodiments a GSM module (which may also be a UMTS, GPRS, module or the like) which is provided as a unit within the casing 102 A use of the present invention is controlling a fleet of courier vehicles, each of which are fitted with a unit 100. This example use is now described with reference to Figures 7 and 8.

Figure 7 shows a plurality of courier vehicles 700a-700e each carrying an on-board processing unit 100. Each processing unit 100 is arranged to communicate with the computer system 604 via the Internet 600. In this example, the computer system 604 is arranged to form part of a network in conjunction with a keyboard 702 and a mouse 704.

The computer system 604 is arranged to track and control the movements of the vehicles 700a-700e.

The skilled person will appreciate that, in the courier industry, it is often found that a vehicle is carrying a load only around half the timethe vans, trucks, motorcycles, etc. frequently return from a delivery empty.

Under the present example, details of each vehicle 700a-700e are stored on the computer system 604 and are utilised to direct, redirect or reassign each vehicle to provide a more efficient system.

In this example, the details stored comprise an identifier number, unique to each courier, a base location, a driver rating (the driver rating provides a measure of the driver's skill and/or training, e.g., where the driver is able to deliver, be it locally, nationally, international, etc). Further, the details comprise the name of the driver, a contact telephone number and a contact email address. The details also comprise information about the vehicle 700a-700e operated by the courier- for example the vehicle type, its registration number and the load it is able to carrywhich will be of limited weight and volume. Further the details comprise the real-time location of each of the vehicles 700a-700e as they move and details of any job being performed or due to be performed by the driver of that vehicle 700a-700e. The location of the vehicle 700a-700e is provided by the GPS unit 314 within the unit 100 and sent to the computer system 604 via a connection to the processing unit and the computer system 604.

The computer system 604 also holds files on the clients and drivers of the system, detailing their activities. Further, the computer system 604 has access to mapping data and to road traffic information.

In the example system described in the flow chart of Figure 8, the courier fleet is in operation with the various vehicles 700a-700e being at dispersed and changing locations. As step 802, the fleet manager, who operates the computer 702, receives a request for a delivery to be carried out from a client. The request is accompanied by the job details, which include details of both the pick-up and the delivery. These details include a contact name, address and phone number, the size of the load to be carried and any additional details. The job is assigned a unique job number, and the details of the job are stored along with the date and the time at which the request was made.

The manager then, in step 804, views the real-time locations, the employment and the capabilities of the vehicles 700a-700e and allocates the job according to which vehicle 700a-700e can carry out the work.

The manager emails the details of the of the job along with a map setting out the optimum route from the vehicle's present position to the pick-up point to the unit 100 in the selected, or delivery, vehicle 700a-700e in step 806.

The driver of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e indicates receipt of the instructions by sending an email via the unit 100 in step 808. In step 810, the driver commences the pick-up journey, re-routing if necessary. In step 812, an email is sent to the client advising the position of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e, along with estimated pick-up and delivery times. The client is also provided with a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which can be used to access the real-time position of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e over the Internet 600.

The progress of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e is monitored by the computer system 604 in step 814. The system in this example monitors the speed of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e using the GPS unit 314 and mapping information. This information is compared to predetermined criteria to ascertain whether the delivery vehicle 700a-700e progressing in a satisfactory manner in step 816. In the example described herein, if the average speed of a delivery vehicle 700a-700e falls below a certain value.

The computer system 604 also receives traffic information and uses this to monitor the route ahead of the vehicle and to assess if the route ahead of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e is satisfactory in step 818. If either the traffic conditions or the average speed are not satisfactory, the manager and/or a process running on the computer system 604 is alerted in step 820 and makes a judgement as to whether the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e should be amended in step 822. If the ETA is to be amended, the client is sent an email giving the new ETA in step 824.

The delivery vehicle 700a-700e makes its delivery to the appointed contact. In step 826, the computer system 604 receives a confirmation email from the driver of the delivery vehicle 700a-700e. The computer system then records the journey log and the billing details and updates the driver and client activity files in step 824.

A further use of the unit 100 is now described with reference to Figures 9 and lo.

In the example use of the unit 100 now described, the cost of using the unit can be reduced if the user of the unit consents to receiving advertising via the Internet 600.

The skilled person will appreciate that there is usually a cost associated with accessing the Internet 600, which can be the cost of the telephone connection or there may be a subscription fee in place of or in addition to the telephone connection fee.

In this example, the unit 100 is contained within a car 900 undergoing a journey. The unit 100 is connected to the Internet 600 and is in communication with the computer system 604 via the Internet 600. The computer system 604 is arranged to provide services over the Internet 600 to subscribers.

The computer system 604 (again, a server remote from the car) of this example holds the following data: Subscriber details giving information on each subscriber, who may for example include the driver of the car 100; Subscriber purchase records, giving information on previous purchases made by each subscriber; Subscriber banking details, allowing purchases to be made; The location of each unit 100 as supplied by the GPRS unit 314; Advertisements categorised by target audience based on location of subscriber and/or subscriber purchase records and/or subscriber details; Subscriber account details, detailing the payments made for the service provided; and Web based services, such as web sites, on-line radio, film clips, on-line banking, etc. Figure 10 schematically shows how a subscriber may choose to reduce their subscription fees. There are three lanes representing separate fee levels. The lowest fee level supplies a service that is interrupted by advertisement at twenty minute intervals. The middle fee level supplies a service that is interrupted by advertisements once every hour. The upper fee level supplies a service that is never interrupted by advertisements.

The user is free to change lanes, i.e. to pay a different fee level, whenever they choose. The user is also free to log off the system at any time.

The advertisements may be chosen by the location of the unit 100 (which it should be remembered will be the location of the car 900). This will be suitable for advertisements that concern local service such as restaurants, garages or Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Alternatively, or additionally, the advertisements may be chosen according to a user profile, which may comprise the user's purchase record or other details of the user. These can be used to determine whether a particular user is likely to purchase a particular advertised product.

In this example, the user is charged per minute they are accessing services according to their chosen lane and the associated fee level. The screen 202 is arranged to display the choice of lane. The screen 202 may also be controlled to display the user's account status.

Claims (62)

1. A processing unit comprising a case to contain components of the processing unit and a removable cover allowing a user to gain access to the interior of the case, the interior of the case being provided with a movable tray and the components being arranged such that some components are mounted on the tray and other components are mounted such that movement of the tray together with the components mounted thereon provides access to the other components.
2. A processing unit according to claim 1 in which the processing unit is arranged to be placed within a vehicle.
3. A processing unit according to claim 1 or claim 2 in which the tray is mounted using one or more resilient mounting means.
4. A processing unit according to claim 3 in which components having moving parts therein are mounted upon the tray.
5. A processing unit according to any preceding claim in which the tray may be arranged such that it is pivotably mounted at a first edge region, arranged such that the tray may be rotated about the pivotable mount.
6. A processing unit according to any preceding claim in which the tray is removable from the unit.
7. A processing unit according to any preceding claim in which the tray is roughly rectangular in plan and a mounting means is provided in a region of corners of the rectangle.
8. A processing unit arranged to be fitted in a vehicle and comprising a vehicle monitoring means arranged to determine the position of a vehicle in which the processing unit is fitted and a connection means arranged to allow the processing unit to communicate with a remote computer system.
9. A processing unit according to claim 8 in which the vehicle monitoring means comprises a GPS receiver arranged to determine the position of the vehicle.
10. A processing unit according to claim 8 or 9 in which the vehicle monitoring means is arranged to forward the position of the vehicle via the connection means to a remote computer system.
11. A processing unit according to any of claims 8 to 10 in which the vehicle monitoring means is arranged to forward the position of the vehicle to a processor arranged to process the position of the vehicle and generate additional data.
12. A processing unit according to claim 11 in which the additional data comprises one or more of the following: speed of the vehicle; average speed of the vehicle; distance travelled by the vehicle (total and/or trip); estimated arrival time; time until arrival; or any other similar data.
13. A processing unit according to claim 11 or claim 12 in which the processing unit is arranged to transmit any data that is calculated by the processing unit to the remote computer system.
14. A processing unit according to any of claims 8 to 13 which comprises a display means. 1,
15. A processing unit according to any of claims 8 to 14 in which the connection means comprises one or more of the following: a GPRS, UMTS, GSM.
16. A processing unit according to any of claims 8 to 15 which is arranged to receive email.
17. A processing unit according to any of claims 8 to 16 which comprises one or more hardware components, the or each component being arranged to perform one or more of the following: receive data, collect data, process data, read data, transmit data.
18. A processing unit according to claim 17 in which at least one of the or each hardware components is arranged on a mounting wherein said mounting comprises shock suspension.
19. A processing unit according to claim 18 in which the shock suspension is provided by one or more spring means.
20. A processing unit according to any of claims 17 to 19 in which at least one of the hardware components is arranged on a moveable mounting.
21. A processing unit according to claim 20 in which the movable mounting is hinged and or may be removable from a housing of the processing unit.
22. A vehicle management system comprising computer system which comprises a location determining means arranged to receive vehicle position data from at least one remote processing unit fitted to a vehicle, an input means arranged to have information input thereto and a processing means arranged to process information provided by the location determining means and the input means, the or each processing unit comprising a connection means arranged to connect the processing unit to the computer system and a computer monitoring means arranged to determine the position of the vehicle in which it is fitted, such that the connection means can pass the vehicle position to the location determining means on the computer system.
23. A computer readable medium containing instructions which when read on to a computer cause that computer to function as the computer system of claim 22.
24. A computer readable medium containing instruction which when read onto a computer cause that computer to function as the processing unit of any of claims 1 to 21.
25. A computer readable medium according to claim 23 or 24 comprising any one of the following: a floppy disc; a CDROM; a DVD ROM/RAM including +RW, +R, -R. -RW; a memory; a memory stick or other memory card; any form of magneto-optical disc; a hard drive; a wire; a transmitted signal.
26. A controller arranged to generate data indicative of the motion of a user's digit said controller comprising a body upon which a motion detection means is mounted, said body being arranged to be temporarily held by one or more digits of a user's hand so as to hold the motion detection means adjacent a digit of that hand.
27. A controller according to claim 26 in which the body is arranged such that when a user holds the body, the motion detection means is adjacent a thumb of a user's hand.
28. A controller according to claim 26 or claim 27 in which the body also comprises a digit engaging means arranged to allow a user to hold the controller using one and preferably two fingers of his/her hand.
29. A controller according to claim 28 in which the body comprises one or more holes therein and/or therethrough as digit engaging means.
30. A controller according to any of claims 26 to 29 in which the motion detection means comprises one or more of the following: a track ball, a joystick, a touch pad, one or more light beams and/or photo detectors.
31. A controller according to any of claims 26 to 30 which comprise a connector arranged to connect the controller to a computer.
32. A method of providing access to the internet comprising increasing the fee levied for the access to the Internet as the amount of advertising provided on the connection is reduced.
33. A method of providing access to the Internet according to claim 32 in which the advertising provided by this method is location based.
34. A method of providing access to the internal according to claim 32 or claim 33 in which the amount of advertising is judged on a volume per time basis.
35. A method of managing one or more vehicles which is part of a fleet of vehicles comprising providing a computer system having a location determining means arranged to determine the location of a vehicle, an input means arranged to have information input thereto and a processing means arranged to process information provided by the location determining and/or the input means, the method comprising: causing the location determining means to determine the location of the or each vehicle; inputting to the input means the location of at least one site that it is desired that at least one vehicle from the fleet should visit; causing the processing means to compare the location of the or each vehicle and the location of the or each site; and further arranged to do one of: cause the processing means to determine, based on the comparison, the route of the or each vehicle in the fleet, or cause the processing means to display the location of the or each vehicle and the or each site on a display means and prompting an operator for an input, and further being arranged to receive an input as to the route of the or each vehicle in the fleet.
36. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 35 in which the location determining means collects data from the or each vehicle in order to determine the location thereof.
37. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 35 or claim 36 in which the, or each, vehicle is provided with a processing unit which may be capable of connecting to the computer system.
38. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 37 in which the or each processing unit connects to the computer system via an internet connection.
39. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 37 or claim 38 in which the method comprises connecting the processing unit to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.
40. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 39 which comprises arranging the processing unit to acquire data from the GPS receiver which is sent to the computer system thereby allowing the computer system to determine the location of the or each vehicle.
41. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 40 in which the computer system and/or the processing unit prompts a user thereof for a position.
42. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 41 in which the processing unit is connected to any one or more of the following: gyroscopes, accelerometers, shaft encoders.
43. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 42 which provides the computer system with a remote access means.
44. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 43 in which the remote access means constitutes the input means and allows data for at least one site to be entered onto the computer system.
45. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 43 or claim 44 in which the remote access means comprises a connection to a network.
46. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 45 which provides a web site, allowing users to input details of the at least one site that it is desired for at least one vehicle from the fleet should visit.
47. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 46 in which the web site comprises at least one form which users can complete in order to provide details of the at least one site that it is desired for the at least one vehicle to visit.
48. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 46 or claim 47 in which the computer system prompts a user to input data into the computer system in order that the details of the at least one site that it is desired for the at least one vehicle to visit can be entered onto the system.
49. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 48 which causes the computer system to generate a communication to be sent at least one vehicle of a fleet.
50. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 49 wherein the communication contains instructions that direct the vehicle to one or more sites.
51. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 50 in which the method is arranged to generate emails which are sent to the processing unit in the or each vehicle.
52. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 51 on which the method causes the computer system to determine the expected arrival time of the or each vehicle at a site to which the vehicle has been directed.
53. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 52 in which the computer system outputs information as to the location of the or each vehicle.
54. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 53 in which the location of the or each vehicle may be plotted on a web site.
55. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 54 which causes the computer system to determine the average speed of the or each vehicle of which it is aware.
56. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 55 which causes the computer system to periodically calculate the estimated arrival time of the vehicle at the site to which it is headed based upon the average speed.
57. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 56 in which, should the estimated arrival time fall outside predetermined parameters, a user of the system is alerted that the arrival time may not be as expected.
58. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 57 which causes the computer system to determine when the or each vehicle arrives at the site to which it has been directed by the system.
59. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 58 which causes the computer system to record data relating to vehicles that it is monitoring.
60. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to any of claims 35 to 59 which is arranged to generate billing from the data that has been recorded in relation to vehicles that are monitored.
61. A method of managing one or more vehicles according to claim 60 which manages courier vehicles and the billing that is generated by the method may be for the delivery of courier packages.
62. A computer system comprising a location determining means arranged to generate vehicle position data for at least one vehicle, an input means arranged to allow data to be input to the computer system, and a processing means arranged to process data input to the input means and vehicle position data determined by the location determining means, the computer system being arranged to process at least one set of vehicle position data together with data of at least one site that has been input to the input means and arranged to: i. generate a route for the or each vehicle; and/or ii. display on a display means a prompt to prompt an operator for an input, and further being arranged to receive an input to the input means of a route for the or each vehicle.
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US20110010022A1 (en) * 2009-07-10 2011-01-13 The Boeing Company Systems and methods for remotely collaborative vehicles
US7912641B2 (en) * 2006-06-14 2011-03-22 Mts Technologies, Inc. Vehicular fleet monitoring via public wireless communication access points using compressed diagnostic data sets and reduced latency transmissions
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WO2005045549A2 (en) 2005-05-19
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GB0424098D0 (en) 2004-12-01
GB2407918B (en) 2007-12-12

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