US20140330596A1 - System for monitoring vehicle and operator behavior - Google Patents

System for monitoring vehicle and operator behavior Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140330596A1
US20140330596A1 US14/333,249 US201414333249A US2014330596A1 US 20140330596 A1 US20140330596 A1 US 20140330596A1 US 201414333249 A US201414333249 A US 201414333249A US 2014330596 A1 US2014330596 A1 US 2014330596A1
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Prior art keywords
system
motor vehicle
vehicle
mobile device
information
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Abandoned
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US14/333,249
Inventor
Shailendra Depura
Bhavna Shailendra DEPURA
Jamna Lal DEPURA
Kanta DEPURA
Shalini MEMANI
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Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co
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Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co
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Priority to US201161519550P priority Critical
Priority to US13/477,475 priority patent/US8924240B2/en
Application filed by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co filed Critical Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co
Priority to US14/333,249 priority patent/US20140330596A1/en
Publication of US20140330596A1 publication Critical patent/US20140330596A1/en
Assigned to NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY reassignment NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: DEPURA, SHAILENDRA
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60WCONJOINT CONTROL OF VEHICLE SUB-UNITS OF DIFFERENT TYPE OR DIFFERENT FUNCTION; CONTROL SYSTEMS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR HYBRID VEHICLES; ROAD VEHICLE DRIVE CONTROL SYSTEMS FOR PURPOSES NOT RELATED TO THE CONTROL OF A PARTICULAR SUB-UNIT
    • B60W40/00Estimation or calculation of non-directly measurable driving parameters for road vehicle drive control systems not related to the control of a particular sub unit, e.g. by using mathematical models
    • B60W40/08Estimation or calculation of non-directly measurable driving parameters for road vehicle drive control systems not related to the control of a particular sub unit, e.g. by using mathematical models related to drivers or passengers
    • B60W40/09Driving style or behaviour
    • 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
    • G06Q40/00Finance; Insurance; Tax strategies; Processing of corporate or income taxes
    • G06Q40/08Insurance, e.g. risk analysis or pensions
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W52/00Power management, e.g. TPC [Transmission Power Control], power saving or power classes
    • H04W52/02Power saving arrangements
    • H04W52/0209Power saving arrangements in terminal devices
    • H04W52/0251Power saving arrangements in terminal devices using monitoring of local events, e.g. events related to user activity
    • H04W52/0258Power saving arrangements in terminal devices using monitoring of local events, e.g. events related to user activity controlling an operation mode according to history or models of usage information, e.g. activity schedule or time of day
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02DCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES [ICT], I.E. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AIMING AT THE REDUCTION OF THIR OWN ENERGY USE
    • Y02D70/00Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02DCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES [ICT], I.E. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AIMING AT THE REDUCTION OF THIR OWN ENERGY USE
    • Y02D70/00Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks
    • Y02D70/10Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT]
    • Y02D70/14Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT] in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE] networks
    • Y02D70/142Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT] in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE] networks in Wireless Local Area Networks [WLAN]
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02DCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES [ICT], I.E. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AIMING AT THE REDUCTION OF THIR OWN ENERGY USE
    • Y02D70/00Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks
    • Y02D70/10Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT]
    • Y02D70/14Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT] in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE] networks
    • Y02D70/144Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT] in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE] networks in Bluetooth and Wireless Personal Area Networks [WPAN]
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02DCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES [ICT], I.E. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AIMING AT THE REDUCTION OF THIR OWN ENERGY USE
    • Y02D70/00Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks
    • Y02D70/10Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT]
    • Y02D70/16Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT] in other wireless communication networks
    • Y02D70/164Techniques for reducing energy consumption in wireless communication networks according to the Radio Access Technology [RAT] in other wireless communication networks in Satellite Navigation receivers

Abstract

A system for monitoring operator and motor vehicle behavior, including at least one mobile device; application software resident on the mobile device, wherein the application software is operative to gather and record information relevant to both the behavior of a motor vehicle and the behavior of an operator of the motor vehicle, and wherein the application software is activated or deactivated based on certain predetermined trigger events; and at least one information processor in communication with and/or resident on the mobile device, wherein the information processor is operative to process and characterize the information gathered by the application software and communicate the processed and characterized information to a user of the system.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This patent application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/477,475 filed on May 22, 2012, and entitled “System for Monitoring Vehicle and Operator Behavior” the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety and made part of the present U.S. utility patent application for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The described invention relates in general to systems and methods for monitoring both the behavior of a vehicle and the behavior of an individual operating the vehicle, and more specifically to a system for monitoring and recording the behavior of a vehicle and the behavior of the individual operating the vehicle using a mobile device such as a cell phone, smartphone, or the like.
  • Conventional methods of monitoring the behavior of an operator, when operating a motor vehicle, typically require installation of one or more monitoring devices in the vehicle. Such devices may include an onboard computer and multiple sensors that collect vehicle operation data such as, for example, speed, location, and time of day or data readers that plug directly into an on-board diagnostic port. As such, these monitoring systems are not designed to be portable and cannot be easily transferred from one vehicle to another. Furthermore, incorrect installation may interfere with the normal and safe operation of the vehicle. Additionally, these monitoring systems may limit the monitoring and recording of data to the operation/function of the motor vehicle itself and may not monitor and record information regarding the operator's own behavior (such as texting or phone usage), which may cause distraction and diminish the ability of the operator to safely operate the motor vehicle. Therefore, there is an ongoing need for a system for monitoring vehicles and the operators of those vehicles that is portable, does not require installation in the vehicle, and that records information regarding both the behavior and functions of the vehicle and the behavior of the person driving or otherwise operating the vehicle.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The following provides a summary of certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention. This summary is not an extensive overview and is not intended to identify key or critical aspects or elements of the present invention or to delineate its scope.
  • In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a system for monitoring the behavior of a motor vehicle and the behavior of an operator of that motor vehicle is provided. This system includes at least one mobile device, wherein the mobile device is not physically installed in the motor vehicle being monitored; wherein the mobile device further includes hardware, software, sensors, and communication functions; wherein the mobile device further includes at least one information processor resident on the mobile device or in communication with the mobile device; and wherein the hardware, software, sensors, communication functions and the information processor are operative to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the behavior of motor vehicle; behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle; details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated; details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated; or combinations thereof; and at least one application software resident on the mobile device, wherein the at least one application software interfaces with the hardware, software, sensors, communication functions and the information processor to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the behavior of the motor vehicle; behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle; details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated; details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated; or combinations thereof; and wherein the at least one application software is activated and deactivated based on certain predetermined trigger events.
  • In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, an alternate system for for monitoring the behavior of a motor vehicle and the behavior of an operator of that motor vehicle, comprising: at least one mobile device, wherein the mobile device is not physically connected to the motor vehicle being monitored; wherein the mobile device includes hardware, software, sensors, and communication functions; wherein the hardware, software, sensors, and communication functions included in the mobile device are operative to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the behavior of motor vehicle, the behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle, details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated, details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated, or combinations thereof; at least one central control system that includes additional hardware, software, databases, algorithms, and communication functions; wherein the databases further include information collected from the at least one mobile device and additional information about the operator, the motor vehicle, geography, environment, or combinations thereof; wherein the central control system is operative to aggregate and augment data collected from the at least one mobile device; wherein the additional hardware, software, databases, algorithms and communication functions included in the central control system are operative to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the operator, vehicle, geography, environment, or combinations thereof; and at least one information processor.
  • Additional features and aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading and understanding the following detailed description of the exemplary embodiments. As will be appreciated by the skilled artisan, further embodiments of the invention are possible without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and associated descriptions are to be regarded as illustrative and not restrictive in nature.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into and form a part of the specification, schematically illustrate one or more exemplary embodiments of the invention and, together with the general description given above and detailed description given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention, and wherein:
  • FIG. 1A is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention illustrating the components and subsystems thereof;
  • FIG. 1B is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention illustrating the components of the system that are resident on the handheld device, the components that are resident on the central control system and the means by which these components communicate internally and externally;
  • FIG. 1C is a block diagram illustrating that the central control system of the present invention may be in simultaneous communication with a plurality of handheld devices;
  • FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of the set-up subsystem of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 3A is a flow chart illustrating the operation of the administrative control subsystem of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of FIG. 1 with regard to data collection;
  • FIG. 3B is a flow chart illustrating the operation of the administrative control subsystem of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of FIG. 1 with regard to data transfer;
  • FIG. 3C is a flow chart illustrating the operation of the administrative control subsystem of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of FIG. 1 with regard to reporting and feedback;
  • FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of the data collection subsystem of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of the data transmission subsystem of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 6 is a table presenting examples of various trigger events used in the operation of the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7A depicts an embodiment of the present invention wherein the user interface includes a handheld device such as a mobile telephone;
  • FIG. 7B depicts an embodiment of the present invention wherein the user interface includes a handheld device such as a mobile telephone and a computer;
  • FIG. 7C depicts an embodiment of the present invention wherein the user interface includes a computer;
  • FIG. 8 depicts a sample data transmission file in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 9 is a first example of a trip summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 10 is a second example of a trip summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11A is a first example of a usage summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11B is a second example of a usage summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11C is a third example of a usage summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11D is a fourth example of a usage summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11E is a fifth example of a usage summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11F is a sixth example of a usage summary report in accordance with the vehicle and operator monitoring system of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 12 is a flowchart illustrating the operation of the reporting and feedback subsystem of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Exemplary embodiments of the present invention are now described with reference to the Figures. Reference numerals are used throughout the detailed description to refer to the various elements and structures. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form for purposes of simplifying the description. Although the following detailed description contains many specifics for the purposes of illustration, a person of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that many variations and alterations to the following details are within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the following embodiments of the invention are set forth without any loss of generality to, and without imposing limitations upon, the claimed invention.
  • The present invention relates to a system for monitoring both the behavior of a motor vehicle and the behavior of the operator of that motor vehicle (while the vehicle is being driven or otherwise operated). Relevant data is collected using a mobile telephone, smart phone or other portable device and transmitted to a remote server where the data is further processed, characterized, and reported back to the operator and/or to another end-user of the system. One or more algorithms included in this invention may be used, developed, or updated to analyze data gathered by the system and assign a comparative risk rating (or other characterization) to the operator of a vehicle. Data recorded and/or derived from data gathered by this invention may be used for other purposes such as, for example, determining the cost of vehicle insurance, dispatching emergency services, commercial vehicle and fleet management, route optimization, education, law enforcement, monitoring and supervising young drivers, and marketing location-based products and services. The present invention gathers useful data from existing mobile devices such as smart phones and does not require hard-wiring a device into a vehicle or other installation procedures, the incorrect execution of which may affect vehicle function or distract the vehicle's operator. Application software resident on the mobile device component of this invention may also be used to independently verify the time using a variety of external sources including the central processing system, one or more atomic clocks, cellular service providers, or by other means. With reference now to the Figures, one or more specific embodiments of this invention shall be described in greater detail.
  • The block diagram provided in FIG. 1A illustrates the components and subsystems of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Set-up subsystem 100 is used by the operator of a motor vehicle to configure monitoring system 10. Once monitoring system 10 is initially configured using set-up subsystem 100, monitoring system 10 then operates within the guidance and control of administrative subsystem 101. Administrative subsystem 101 guides and controls the operations of data collection subsystem 102, data transmission subsystem 103, local database 104, data transmission file 105 and reporting and feedback subsystem 107. Data transmission subsystem 103 uses data transmission file 105 to communicate with central control system 106. Reporting and feedback subsystem 107 may provide reports and feedback to a user of monitoring system 10 either from local database 104 or from central control system 106, or from a combination of both. FIG. 6 is a table presenting examples of various trigger events used by the subsystems of monitoring system 10. These trigger events may be used to start a subsystem, stop a subsystem or modify the behavior of a subsystem.
  • The block diagram provided in FIG. 1B illustrates the components of system 10 that are resident on handheld device 700, the components that are resident on central control system 106 and the means by which these components communicate internally and externally. Local monitoring system 112 receives, processes, and stores information from a variety of local application software, system components, and/or local hardware available to the mobile device including those shown in FIG. 1B (or other components). Handheld device 700 may also communicate with one or more satellites 116 and/or mobile network 118. Central control system 106 typically includes the components shown in FIG. 1B (or other components) and communicates with handheld device 700 by a variety of communication means including one or more cellular networks, Bluetooth, infrared, and/or internet connection 110. FIG. 1C is a block diagram illustrating that the central control system of the present invention may be in simultaneous communication with a plurality of handheld devices.
  • The flow chart provided in FIG. 2 illustrates the operation of set-up subsystem 100. Set-up subsystem 100 is initiated at step 200 when a user first starts using monitoring system 10 and each time the user wishes to re-configure monitoring system 10 thereafter. At step 201, set-up subsystem 100 acquires information such as, for example, confirmation of software license for use of system 10; date of license grant (initial or renewed); vehicle identification number; make, model and year of the vehicle. Set-up subsystem 100 also acquires user preferences at step 201, which may include auto/manual updates to system software, real-time versus batch data transmission, data transmission preferences, data sharing, display reports, colors and themes, among others. At step 202, set-up subsystem 100 derives and calculates a plurality of control triggers for all of the subsystems of monitoring system 10. At step 203, set-up subsystem 100 initiates administrative control subsystem 203.
  • The flow charts provided in FIGS. 3A-C illustrate the functionality and operation of administration control subsystem 101, which controls the operations of all the other subsystems in monitoring system 10. Administrative control subsystem 101 monitors system 10 for a plurality of trigger events to start, stop or modify the behavior of the other subsystems. In FIG. 3A, administrative control subsystem 101 controls the operation of data collection subsystem 102 by beginning at step 30, acquiring control triggers and user preferences from set-up subsystem 100 at step 300 and monitoring system 10 for trigger events at step 301. Decision step 302 is based on the presence of a trigger, or the lack thereof, to initiate data collection subsystem 102. Lack of a trigger results in no action at step 303, while the presence of a “start” trigger initiates data collection subsystem 102 at step 305. Decision step 307 is based on the presence of a trigger, or the lack thereof, to terminate data collection subsystem 102. Lack of a trigger results in continued running of data collection subsystem 102 at step 308, while the presence of a “stop” trigger terminates data collection subsystem 102 at step 310. In FIG. 3B, administrative control subsystem 101 controls the operation of data transmission subsystem 103 by beginning at step 30, acquiring control triggers and user preferences from set-up subsystem 100 at step 300 and monitoring system 10 for trigger events at step 301. Decision step 304 is based on the presence of a trigger, or the lack thereof, to initiate data transmission subsystem 103. Lack of a trigger results in no action at step 303, while the presence of a “start” trigger initiates data collection subsystem 103 at step 306. Decision step 309 is based on the presence of a trigger, or the lack thereof, to terminate data transmission subsystem 103. Lack of a trigger results in continued running of data transmission subsystem 103 at step 308, while the presence of a “stop” trigger terminates data transmission subsystem 103 at step 311. In FIG. 3C, administrative control subsystem 101 controls the operation of reporting and feedback subsystem 107 by beginning at step 30, acquiring control triggers and user preferences from set-up subsystem 100 at step 300 and monitoring system 10 for trigger events at step 301. Decision step 314 is based on the presence of a trigger, or the lack thereof, to initiate data reporting and feedback subsystem 107. Lack of a trigger results in no action at step 303, while the presence of a “start” trigger initiates data reporting and feedback subsystem 107 at step 316. Decision step 318 is based on the presence of a trigger, or the lack thereof, to terminate data reporting and feedback subsystem 107. Lack of a trigger results in continued running of data reporting and feedback subsystem 107 at step 308, while the presence of a “stop” trigger terminates data reporting and feedback subsystem 107 at step 320. An example of a trigger event would be the expiration of a license agreement for the use of monitoring system 10. Administrative control subsystem 101 would use this “stop” trigger to stop all other subsystems. Another example of a trigger event would be restarting of the cellular phone or smartphone. The administrative control subsystem 101 would use this “start” trigger to start all subsystems.
  • The flow chart provided in FIG. 4 illustrates the operation of data collection subsystem 102, which collects data based on predetermined trigger events. Operation of data collection subsystem 102 begins at step 400 and proceeds to decision step 402. If no “start” trigger event has occurred, data collection subsystem 102 continues to monitor system 10 for trigger events at step 401. If a “start” trigger event has occurred at decision step 402, data collection subsystem 102 begins to collect operational data at step 403. This data is then stored in local database 104, which typically resides on a mobile phone or similar device, at step 404. This cycle will continue until a “stop” trigger event occurs at step 405 at which point data collection subsystem 102 will cease collecting operational data and/or other data. An example of a trigger event would be the motion sensor in the cellular phone detecting a predetermined speed. Data collection subsystem 102 would use this “start” trigger to begin collecting operational data. Another example of a trigger event would be a system alarm or predetermined time intervals. Data collection subsystem 102 would use this “start” trigger to start collecting operational data. Data collection subsystem 102 is typically operative to monitor and record certain data such as, for example, date; time; current geographic location; speed of motion; speed limit; direction of motion; and use of cellular phone by the operator. These data may then be used to calculate and derive or determine other relevant factors such as, for example, rapid acceleration; rapid deceleration; change in direction; speed of change in direction; distance travelled; and total travel time. Data collection subsystem 102 typically utilizes multiple sensors and services (e.g. one or more internal sensors and various application software) resident on or available to (i.e., external to) the mobile device such as, for example, a compass; an accelerometer; a global positioning system (GPS); an atomic clock; temperature and weather monitoring; cell phone tower triangulation; and internet access and connectivity.
  • FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of data transmission subsystem 103, which monitors and manages transmission files 105, which are resident on the mobile device. Transmission files 105 may be created by the various other subsystems in monitoring system 10. Operation of data transmission subsystem 103 begins at step 500 and proceeds to decision step 501. If a transmission file 105 is available at step 501, data transmission subsystem 103 then checks for the presence of a datalink or internet access at step 502. If a datalink or internet access is confirmed, data transmission subsystem 103 then checks for the availability of central control system 106 at step 503. If the availability of central control system 106 is confirmed, data transmission subsystem 103 will transmit local transmission files 105 to central control system 106 at step 504 and then receive a transmission report 505 from central control system 106 at step 505. If the transmission report confirms the data transmission was successful at step 506, data transmission subsystem 103 will then delete local transmission file 105 at step 507 to free up local resources (i.e., memory). Data transmission subsystem 103 may utilize various data transmission technologies such as, for example, wired and wireless connections, internet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and infrared. In some embodiments, data transmission occurs in real-time and in other embodiments, transmission files 105 are stored in the mobile device for a period of time prior to transmission.
  • With reference again to FIG. 1, central control system 106 is operative to compare collected, calculated and/or derived data to known or predetermined parameters or conditions such as, for example, population density for a geographic location; crime rates for a geographic location; number of accidents, and elevation above sea level for a geographic location. Central control system 106 may then compare detected geographic locations and time of day to the presence of an accident; road construction; full or partial road closures; snowfall; rainfall; and fog, among others. Central control system 106 may also compare operator behavior to known geographic location having certain characteristics.
  • One or more algorithms within central control system 106 are operative to assign ratings with regard to high, medium, or low risk (alternate rating schemes are possible such as a scaled rating from 0-100) to both operator behavior and vehicle behavior and then report these ratings to the operator on a periodic basis. An example of this rating process involves an operator operating a motor vehicle at a posted speed limit that may be classified as low risk when no road construction is present at the geographic location and classified as higher risk when road construction is present at the same geographic location. Another example of this rating process includes an operator operating a motor vehicle at posted speed limit that may be classified as low risk when there is no snowfall at geographic location and classified as higher risk when there is snowfall in excess of selected amount at the same geographic location. Other risk classification examples include: (i) a geographic location may be classified among low risk, medium risk and high risk based on the number of traffic accidents in the area; (ii) the same geographic location may be classified as lower risk during summer months and as higher risk during winter months based on the amount of precipitation; and (iii) a geographic location may be classified among low risk, medium risk or high risk based on the type of terrain, e.g., long straight roads, meandering mountain roads, etc. Classifications, particularly with regard to vehicle fleet management, may also be based on variables such as (i) the distance/time from a predetermined location; (ii) available capacity (e.g. ability to pick up passengers or goods to be transported; (iii) the type of goods that may be transported (e.g. liquids, dry, refrigerated, medical); and the amount of driving time and non-driving time recorded. Risk classifications may also be derived from data collected from other operators in a common geographic area. For example, the average speed of all operators using system 10 could be determined for a defined area at a certain time and a relative risk classification could be assigned to any operator deviating from the average speed. Operator driving history and/or a history of previous traffic incidents including accidents and traffic violations may also be used to determine or assign risk categories or classifications.
  • FIG. 7A depicts an embodiment of the present invention wherein the user interface with central control system 106 includes a handheld device such as mobile telephone 700 having a visual display 701. FIG. 7B depicts an embodiment of the present invention wherein the user interface with central control system 106 includes a handheld device such as mobile telephone 700, which is in communication with computer 702 having a visual display 703. FIG. 7C depicts an embodiment of the present invention wherein the user interface with central control system 106 includes computer 702 having a visual display 703. Each of these embodiments may be used for the initial setup of monitoring system 10, viewing trip summaries and/or performance reports, upgrading software, and sending information to and receiving information from central control system 106, among other purposes.
  • FIG. 8 depicts a sample data transmission file that includes a plurality of records, each containing some or all of the data recorded and/or derived from the data recorded by data collection sub system 102 including date, time, vehicle speed, speed limit, zip code, direction, use of mobile phone, latitude, and longitude. FIG. 9 is a first example of a trip summary report recorded by data collection subsystem 102 showing a starting point for a trip, the route followed, and the ending point of the trip on a map. FIG. 10 is a second example of a trip summary report recorded by data collection subsystem 102 showing the actual speed of the vehicle and the speed limit posted on the route followed. The graphical representation may also show periods of rapid acceleration, deceleration, or braking The graphical representation may include date and time of the trip. FIGS. 11A-F provide various examples of usage reports comparing an individual operator's performance to other operators. These reports may include summaries of an individual operator's driving history, including miles driven, driving time, average speed, calculated risk scores, graphical representations of risk ratings, graphical representation of operating performance compared to other operators, use of cellular phone and geographies visited. The reports may include sub-classifications such as posted speed limit, time of day, type of geography, weather conditions, etc.
  • FIG. 12 is a flowchart illustrating the operation of the reporting and feedback subsystem 107. Operation of reporting and feedback subsystem 107 begins at step 1200 and proceeds to decision step 1202. If no “start” trigger event has occurred, reporting and feedback subsystem 107 continues to monitor system 10 for trigger events at step 1204. If a “start” trigger event has occurred at decision step 1202, reporting and feedback subsystem 107 displays choices of available reports and feedback options at step 1206. The user selects one or more options at decision step 1208, which results in the selected option being displayed at step 1210 or the process ending at step 1212.
  • While the present invention has been illustrated by the description of exemplary embodiments thereof, and while the embodiments have been described in certain detail, it is not the intention of the Applicant to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to any of the specific details, representative devices and methods, and/or illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of the applicant's general inventive concept.

Claims (20)

What is claimed:
1. A system for monitoring the behavior of a motor vehicle and the behavior of an operator of that motor vehicle, comprising:
(a) at least one mobile device,
(i) wherein the mobile device is not physically installed in the motor vehicle being monitored;
(ii) wherein the mobile device further includes hardware, software, sensors, and communication functions;
(iii) wherein the mobile device further includes at least one information processor resident on the mobile device or in communication with the mobile device; and
(iv) wherein the hardware, software, sensors, communication functions and the information processor are operative to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the behavior of motor vehicle; behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle; details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated; details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated; or combinations thereof; and
(b) at least one application software resident on the mobile device,
(i) wherein the at least one application software interfaces with the hardware, software, sensors, communication functions and the information processor to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the behavior of the motor vehicle; behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle; details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated; details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated; or combinations thereof; and
(ii) wherein the at least one application software is activated and deactivated based on certain predetermined trigger events.
2. The system of claim 1, further comprising at least one central control system that further includes hardware, software, databases, algorithms and communication functions;
(a) wherein the database further includes information collected from the at least one mobile device and additional information about the operator, motor vehicle, geography, environment, or combinations thereof;
(b) wherein the central control system is operative to aggregate and augment data collected from at least one mobile device;
(c) wherein the hardware, software, databases, algorithms and communication functions are operative to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the operator, vehicle, geography, environment, or combinations thereof; and
(d) wherein the central control system includes at least one information processor resident on the central control system.
3. The system of claim 2, wherein the at least one information processor resident on the central control system further includes a computer.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one information processor further includes a computer.
5. The system of claim 1, wherein at least one mobile device is a smartphone.
6. The system of claim 1, further comprising at least one algorithm that classifies or provides ratings to motor vehicles, motor vehicle operators, geographies, environments or combinations thereof; wherein the classifications or ratings further include:
(a) information relevant to individual motor vehicles, motor vehicle operators, geographies, environments, combinations thereof, or changes in this information over time; and
(b) comparative information regarding other motor vehicles, motor vehicle operators, geographies, environments, combinations thereof, or changes in this comparative information over time.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein the system is operative to provide feedback to the user of the system.
8. The system of claim 7, wherein the feedback further comprises:
(a) information about the operators, vehicles, geographies, environments, system, or combinations thereof;
(b) information about a single user, multiple users, or a combination thereof;
(c) wherein the feedback format is aural, numerical, graphical, tabular, pictorial, or combinations thereof; and
(d) wherein the feedback is provided through the mobile device, the central control system, devices connected to the mobile device or the central control system, or combinations thereof
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the information about the behavior of the motor vehicle, behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle, the details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated, the details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated further includes: vehicle make, vehicle model, vehicle model year, vehicle identification number, vehicle use, vehicle passenger capacity, vehicle cargo capacity, vehicle location, vehicle speed, vehicle direction of motion, vehicle history, operator driving history, operator accident history, operator violation history, demographic information, mobile device usage as a telephone while operating the motor vehicle, mobile device usage for internet access while operating the motor vehicle, latitude, longitude, speed limit, elevation, traffic conditions, traffic accidents, presence of construction, presence of hazardous conditions, type of terrain, amount of precipitation, type of precipitation, weather conditions, seasons, presence of other motor vehicles, presence of other vehicle operators, date, time, change in variables over time, combinations thereof, or other information derived from these variables.
10. The system of claim 1, wherein system is used for determining cost of insurance.
11. The system of claim 1, wherein system is used for educating drivers.
12. The system of claim 1, wherein system is used for managing fleets of vehicles; regulatory administration of motor vehicles in a geographic region; law enforcement; providing emergency services; or combinations thereof.
13. A system for monitoring the behavior of a motor vehicle and the behavior of an operator of that motor vehicle, comprising:
(a) at least one mobile device,
(i) wherein the mobile device is not physically connected to the motor vehicle being monitored;
(ii) wherein the mobile device includes hardware, software, sensors, and communication functions;
(iii) wherein the hardware, software, sensors, and communication functions included in the mobile device are operative to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the behavior of motor vehicle, the behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle, details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated, details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated, or combinations thereof;
(b) at least one central control system that includes additional hardware, software, databases, algorithms, and communication functions;
(i) wherein the databases further include information collected from the at least one mobile device and additional information about the operator, the motor vehicle, geography, environment, or combinations thereof;
(ii) wherein the central control system is operative to aggregate and augment data collected from the at least one mobile device;
(iii) wherein the additional hardware, software, databases, algorithms and communication functions included in the central control system are operative to gather, record, characterize and communicate information about the operator, vehicle, geography, environment, or combinations thereof; and
(c) at least one information processor.
14. The system of claim 13, wherein at least one mobile device is a smartphone.
15. The system of claim 13, wherein the at least one information processor further includes a computer.
16. The system of claim 13, further comprising at least one algorithm that classifies or provides ratings to motor vehicles, motor vehicle operators, geographies, environments or combinations thereof; wherein the classifications or ratings further include:
(a) information relevant to individual motor vehicles, motor vehicle operators, geographies, environments, combinations thereof, or changes in this information over time; and
(b) comparative information regarding other motor vehicles, motor vehicle operators, geographies, environments, combinations thereof, or changes in this comparative information over time.
17. The system of claim 13, wherein the system provides feedback to the user of the system, and wherein the feedback further comprises:
(a) information about the operators, vehicles, geographies, environments, system, or combinations thereof;
(b) information about a single user, multiple users, or a combination thereof;
(c) wherein the feedback format is aural, numerical, graphical, tabular, pictorial, or combinations thereof; and
(d) wherein the feedback is provided through the mobile device, the central control system, devices connected to the mobile device or the central control system, or combinations thereof.
18. The system of claim 13, wherein the information about the behavior of the motor vehicle, behavior of the operator of the motor vehicle, the details of the geography where the motor vehicle is being operated, the details of the environment in which the motor vehicle is being operated further includes: vehicle make, vehicle model, vehicle model year, vehicle identification number, vehicle use, vehicle passenger capacity, vehicle cargo capacity, vehicle location, vehicle speed, vehicle direction of motion, vehicle history, operator driving history, operator accident history, operator violation history, demographic information, mobile device usage as a telephone while operating the motor vehicle, mobile device usage for internet access while operating the motor vehicle, latitude, longitude, speed limit, elevation, traffic conditions, traffic accidents, presence of construction, presence of hazardous conditions, type of terrain, amount of precipitation, type of precipitation, weather conditions, seasons, presence of other motor vehicles, presence of other vehicle operators, date, time, change in variables over time, combinations thereof, or other information derived from these variables.
19. The system of claim 13, wherein system is used for determining the cost of insurance.
20. The system of claim 13, wherein system is used for educating drivers; managing fleets of vehicles; regulatory administration of motor vehicles in a geographic region; law enforcement; providing emergency services; or combinations thereof.
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