Partnership works on diagnostic system that checks feds' fleet vehicles via GPS

Partnership works on diagnostic system that checks feds' fleet vehicles via GPS

By William Jackson
GCN Staff

A satellite communications company and an automotive warranty administrator have teamed up to develop a space-based engine monitoring system for government fleet operators.

Using the OM200 satellite modem from Magellan Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., the American Automotive Aftermarket Network, or Ameraan, can monitor a vehicle's on-board diagnostic system.

By checking location through the government's satellite Global Positioning System, Ameraan can direct the driver to the nearest authorized service center when problems occur.

Ameraan, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., administers tire, road hazard and mechanical warranties for automotive suppliers and oil companies. The warranties cover individuals as well as automotive fleets, including some government fleets. The new monitoring system is expected to be available late this year.

Ameraan developed a black-box interface between the OM200 and on-board diagnostic systems. Neither the modem nor the on-board system needs modification, Magellan spokesman Don Meyer said.

'It's just a matter of transmitting the information to an outside source,' he said.

The modem will transmit through the 28 low-Earth-orbit satellites of ORBCOMM, a partnership between Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., and Teleglobe Inc. of Canada. It will connect automatically whenever the diagnostic system senses a problem. Ameraan will monitor the transmissions and notify fleet managers and vehicle owners.

Only small amounts of data are transmitted over the low-power, low-bandwidth, low-cost system, Meyer said, and the cost is about 1 cent per character. A price for the service has not been set. The OM200 modem sells for about $200.'

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