- Car Friend: Fleet Travelling
A real world network concept project
Sometimes we travel together in a group of vehicles to a certain location for a vacation.However, travelling together in a fleet of vehicles has its share of problems, as illustrated by the scenario below.
Scenario (written by Angela Liu)
You are going on a school trip to the countryside with ten other friends, everyone packed into three separate cars. You all agree to meet outside the library at 9am, but you are held up in tunnel traffic and unable to contact anyone until well past 9:30am. When you finally arrive at the library, you realize your friends have already gone on ahead. You call one friend and he says they’re on Route 34, but he is not sure where the other car is since they were separated at the toll area. You do not have GPS and have no idea how to get to Route 34 and your friend cannot easily navigate your car and drive his own at the same time. You finally decide to meet at a gas station near the countryside hotel that your friend has found on his navigation system, but after you hang up the phone, you realize there are five similarly-named gas stations near the hotel. You start wondering if maybe you should have bought a GPS navigation system, but even still the system maybe different than your friend’s and it seemed too hard to understand.
Problem statement (written by Angela Liu)
Therefore, there must be a way to easily, intuitively and safely coordinate fleet travel for people, both with and without in-vehicle GPS navigation systems. Furthermore, there must be a way to easily combine the qualitative information that we receive from services like yelp (about restaurants, entertainment, etc.), specialty blogs, and Jorudan (public transportation routes) to create a coordinated travel experience, rather than just addresses of places and delayed traffic conditions.
CreditsThis is a team project done by Angela Liu, Ching-Jung Chang, Jaynne Koh and myself. This project would not have been possible without their contributions. My contribution in this project is suggesting the problem of car fleet travelling and designing the solution and user interface.
- User Interface
The features shown below are to be implemented for in-vehicle GPS navigation systems, but these features can also be easily implemented for smart mobile phones like iPhones.
- Adding a friend's vehicleIn order to coordinate fleet travel with friends, one needs to first add the friends to the system so that he is able to locate his friends’ vehicles and also share information. Thus, each vehicle would have a security-enabled identifier, for example, a login name. Trusted friends within the car fleet would then share these login names so as to “link up” the vehicles.
The diagram below shows how you can add a car friend to your system and you can verify if that is the correct friend through the location of your friend shown. Once your friend accepts your friend request, you would link up with your friend and be able to locate him.
- Following friend’s route
Once you have added your friend,you can then choose if you are going to travel on the same route as your friend or are you going to use a different route. This can be so as the different vehicles within a fleet might start off at different locations. However, there is also the option of sharing the same route at some point even though thevehicles have started off at different locations.
- Tracking friend’s location
In the navigation map view that can be synced with Google Earth, one would be able to locate his own vehicle relative to his friend’s vehicle and the routes that they are taking. There is also a zoom in, zoom out option for the map.
Distance away and estimated timeof rendezvous
The relative distance and time between your vehicle and your friend’s vehicle will be shown, which allows you to make decisions more easily if changes to the travel itinerary are to be made.
There is a calling function available that allows the driver to call his friend and communicate directly through speaker phones if necessary and thus saving the trouble of taking out the mobile phone and calling again.
- Emergency alert
There is also an emergency alert function that allows you to instantly notify your friends of the fleet when you are in trouble, for example, accidents, car hijacking, or lost. This would provide an immediate, mutually supportive network for the car fleet. The exclamation mark that appears over david1901 icon indicates that david1901 has pressed the alert button and is in trouble.
- Sharing information
As mentioned earlier, sharing of information is a point of difference from existing vehicle tracking systems. Thus, our system has a sharing of information system that allows drivers to share points of interests like restaurants. In this example, david1901 has found a restaurant that he is interested in and would like to ask if you are interested in eating at that place. By touching the “restaurant” icon, you would be able to see more information of the restaurant like the type of food, its rating, and distance and time away from that restaurant. You can accept or reject that restaurant recommendation. This function makes it far easier to coordinate meeting places rather than through mobile phones, which can be difficult to convey destinations, directions and information about the place.
- Seeing through the windscreenview of friend’s car
Another function of the system allows the driver to be able to see his friend’s windscreen view. However, this function is only possible if there is a forward facing camera. Thus, new GPSnavigation devices with forward facing cameras might have to be introduced or smart phones with cameras like iPhones can also be used. The purpose if this function is such that if you can see what your friend is seeing, it would be easier to direct him when he is lost or when you all are trying to find each other.
In conclusion, there are existing problems in terms of fleet coordination and sharing of information when a group of friends travel as a car fleet in a few vehicles to a vacation destination.Thus, in order to better coordinate fleet travelling, we have introduced a linked GPS navigation system that makes use of existing vehicle tracking technologies, and yet allows the drivers to share important information like travelling routes and points of interest with each other in real time. We have also designed user interface features which we believe would make car fleet travelling a much more enjoyable experience.