Electronic eye

PIPE company develops pioneer system that monitors vehicles at a distance

Provide more safety and improve control over the most varied forms of transport is the purpose of new equipment that is going to help to solve problems in this area, such as robbery, the choice of routes, and the supervision of public transport. The fruit of a project under FAPESP’s Small Business Innovation Research (PIPE), the Mobile Unit for the Recording of Routes was developed by Compsis Computadores e Sistemas, from São José dos Campos.

Based on the traditional systems for locating vehicles at a distance, the equipment adds to the usual tracking a series of options offered by information technology. At the stage of being finalized, this tiny on-board computer offers several functions and gives information that ranges from mapping the route followed to detailed reports on time keeping at each stop on the journey. The Mobile Unit records, if so desired, specific activities of the vehicle, such as the fuel consumption, the speed at each point on the route, and even the temperature of a refrigerated cargo.

Even the opening of the doors and the times of the halts can be taken into account. Electronic registration at company gateways, automatic payments of highway tolls and at service stations are also provided for in the versions already available. Going further ahead, in the particular and worrying case of security, if a vehicle leaves a predetermined route, the equipment will be able to switch off certain systems and take over the control of the ignition of the engine, the opening of the door of the cargo compartment, the headlights, the door locks and the radio, sending a warning for the center of control or directly to the responsible security company.

Compact and hidden away
The device resembles the black box in aircraft. It is made up of a compact metal box the size of a pack of cigarettes and of an equally small antenna, both strategically installed in the vehicle in a safe place and out of sight, making the possibility of tampering with it difficult.

The system of communication between the vehicle and the company’s offices is handled using connections with UHF radio stations or a system of mobile telephony. The communication satellites like Brasil sat used by competitors were ruled out for their high cost. However, like some similar systems, the Mobile Unit makes use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, based on the constellation of satellites that informs the latitude and longitude of each point on the planet. With GPS, the equipment is able to register the routes of the vehicles on digital maps that show the coordinates and identify the names of the streets.

The potential for Compsis’s equipment has aroused keen interest in tests and exhibitions, but a point that calls attention and endorses the project even more is the fact that all of it was developed in Brazil. “We give a lot of value to this trump card”, proudly says, Ailton Queiroga, Compsis’s president and chief executive and the coordinator of the project.

Lower cost
Another of Compsis’s achievements is that the equipment is cheaper and provides more affordable services than those of its competitors, which are also dependent on foreign technology. “We produce the equipment, while the other companies work with representatives”, says Queiroga. Compsis’s origin goes back to 1989, when the company began its activities as a supplier to the aerospace sector that exists in São José dos Campos. In more recent years, the company turned to the implementation of electronic tollgates and developed software and electronic apparatus for assembly lines in the automobile industry.

The qualities of Compsis’s localization system have already been tested by Brazil’s biggest insurer of cargoes, Pamcary. At the end of last year, this company backed the installation of this equipment in trucks. Concessionaires of various public services are now studying the possibility of taking up the equipment in order to monitor their fleets. In the management of a fleet of buses, for example, each stop and the time spent there can be recorded, as well as the speed and mileage covered, and the routes of each vehicle.

Another area with great potential is the checking of the routes of vehicles that carry common, hospital or chemical waste. Even the tonnage that the vehicle is carrying can be pinpointed, and, an important detail from the public health point of view, where unloading actually takes place. Queiroga believes that this will help to monitor these services and to keep them free from fraud. “The control does not even have to be immediate, since it can be carried out at the end of the day, or even on a weekly basis”, explains Leopoldo Yoshioka, an engineer from Compsis.

Plenty of information
The equipment can be configured for various capacities of memory, and, if needs be, the data provided by the system can be encoded (using cryptography). The system produces reports, draws graphs, and also cross-checks information, using files generated in a format that is compatible with the popular software package, Microsoft’s MS-Office. This is how the bets are placed both on the usage of this data for audit purposes and to optimize the management of the services rendered.

In the launching stage, Compsis intends to concentrate on certain sectors, like cargo, which includes companies that transport their own products and transportation companies, as well as the passenger segment. In a later step, the company will be attending to other fleets of vehicles, commercial and military, without leaving out ambulances and private vehicles. Queiroga also believes that there are good possibilities in the foreign market.

At the outset, there is also a decision to be made. Whether Compsis will simply be offering the product, or will it also take care of the provision of services. The answer to this is not so simple, as the company is small. Even though it has doubled its staff in the last two years – the company has 130 employees. As to the forecast increase in revenues the company says that this is still impossible to calculate. For the time being, the objective is to conclude the product and put it in the market.

The Project
Automatic System for Monitoring the Routes of Vehicles (nº 97/07403-9); Modality Program for Innovation Technological in Small Companies (PIPE); Coordinator Ailton de Assis Queiroga – Compsis; Investment R$ 44,193.80 and US$ 153,100.00