How to build your own GPS vehicle tracking system?

Archer's Blog - How to build your own GPS vehicle tracking system?
If you are managing a fleet, be it a taxi or a delivery, or a logistics and distribution services, you need a GPS tracker to monitor your vehicles and plan efficient routes. How do you build a custom GPS tracking software specific to your needs and in what cases this would be a better option than an off-the-shelf solution?

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According to the report "GPS Tracking Device Market by Type, Deployment Type, Industry and Geography - Global Forecast to 2025" the GPS tracking device market is expected to reach USD 3.7 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.4% between 2017 and 2025. The factors that are driving the growth of market include the increasing sales of commercial vehicles, small farm factor, affordable price, and high ROI.

The use of satellites for navigation becomes more and more popular among car owners, and those who have big automobile businesses. What are the features of this technology? What benefits it can propose to the transportation industry? Does it add any benefits to you fleet management system?

Is it worthwhile to invest time and effort into the development of the custom GPS vehicles tracking system, building the hand-made GPS trackers or using the factory-produced GPS tracker and integrating it into the custom fleet management system?

Operating principles of GPS vehicle tracking system

This system works as follows:

  • User installs special GPS-receiver in a vehicle
  • This receiver is connected to a smartphone
  • After installation of both devices, all the necessary information about car location and its route is transmitted to a computer (or a company server if we are talking about business) via satellite
  • This means we can easily run GPS monitoring right from the house or working place
Fleet Management Automation
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Fleet Management Automation


GPS tracking system components

GPS tracking system for vehicles usually consists of the following components:

  • Mobile module consisting of two devices (receiver+phone) or a single one GPS tracker;
  • Adapter;
  • Power supply;
  • Box for the module sealing;
  • Software for the data analysis;
  • Сomputer (server);
  • Network connection;
  • For business – operator or assistant able to assemble or disassemble GPS system in the truck.

Module (GPS tracker)

A mobile module that consists of a satellite receiver and data storage unit. GPS trackers usually have a 5-second recording rate at which they can track the car movement within 180 hours (more than 7 days).

Power supply

GPS is powered by a built-in or removable battery. The ability to use additional (removable) batteries is preferable because it will help to avoid a lot of problems connected with the built-in battery failure. This is a significant advantage, and preference should be given to such GPS trackers.

But even in the case of external power source, GPS tracker will operate not longer than a few hours. For stable operation without any failures, the GPS unit needs to be connected to the car onboard network via the adapter. Therefore, the car adapter is a mandatory item in your GPS system.

All connections to the onboard network need to be protected from accidental or intentional disconnection. To improve the reliability of the connection it must be soldered and have only one connector – inside the sealed box.

To complicate the disconnection, the soldered point must be located at a hard-to-reach spot so even the driver wouldn’t know about its location (business case). The connection should be provided via a fuse in that network region where the voltage does not depend on the position of the ignition key.

The container for the mobile unit sealing

Sealing box must meet the following requirements:

  • Transparency. For the visual estimation of the GPS status;
  • Rigidity. To ensure the impossibility of pressing GPS control buttons;
  • The ability to provide a secure connection of an auto adapter and power chords inside a sealed box;
  • Place for power cable which comes from an onboard network;
  • Ability to secure the container in the vehicle cabin;
  • Reliable lock which will prevent inadvertent opening of the container during shaking;
  • A place for a seal.

The box must be placed inside the vehicle cabin. The location should be selected so that the internal GPS antenna won’t be shielded by metal parts of the body. If such an arrangement is impossible, try to use an external antenna.

The assistant adjusts the GPS identifier, sets recording intervals, connects all system to the onboard network, checks the operation and switches GPS to the recording mode, seals the container and places it into the vehicle.

Pros and cons of the hand-made GPS tracker

  • Low price
  • Possibility to replace all elements one by one if the whole item fails
  • The short life cycle
  • Insecurity use
  • Development complexity
  • Low-quality components
  • Weak hosting and a limited number of signals
  • Bulky design
  • Rapid discharge of the battery

As you can see it is still better to use a factory-produced GPS device.

Ready-made vehicle tracking software solutions

Today GPS vehicle tracking software is usually embedded in Fleet Management Systems (FMS), and this year the top 10 solutions rated by are:

  • Verizon Networkfleet
  • Fleetistics
  • NexTraq
  • Rhino Fleet Tracking
  • CalAmp
  • Advanced Tracking Technologies, Inc.
  • Teletrac Navman
  • Brickhouse Security
  • Fleetmatics
  • Telogis

Our company has been dealing with IT services and accomplished hundreds of projects and have gained dozens of successful cases. Development of mobile apps and desktop apps, web-based projects for business companies and this is only a partial list.

Webinar - How to organize an efficient development process to build the automotive solution
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Webinar - How to organize an efficient development process to build the automotive solution


Value-added features of the GPS vehicle tracking system

Usually, the vehicle GPS tracking system is complemented by the features of the anti-theft system. This system analyzes such information as:

  • Vehicle coordinates changing,
  • The engine’s starts and stops,
  • Doors state (open/closed) and so on.

When a user receives an alarm, he can remotely send a command to the GPS receiver (built-in auto unit) – to turn off the engine or to turn on the siren. As we see this monitoring system is fully justified.

It seems the only "con" GPS navigation system has is the GSM technology usage. If there is no connection the car control will be lost then for some time. But, even when the GSM connection is unavailable, the data is saved to the memory of the GPS electronic unit. As a result, after a signal restoration the device operates in a standard mode. GPS system that is placed to a vehicle must consistently and reliably transmit all the information to carry out the GPS monitoring process.

Among the most common additional functions, which navigation system can be equipped with, it is important to note the following:

  • The ability to connect sensors for monitoring of engine temperature and doors openings
  • The ability to connect tachometer
  • It is also possible to connect a variety of actuators which will provide communication between ambulance and driver, anti-theft protocols introduction, etc.

As we already see, the GPS-monitoring system is a profitable investment that allows for reducing risks and transportation costs, as well as for increasing operational efficiency significantly.

Benefits of using a GPS vehicle tracking system

  • Reducing the repair expenditures
  • Slowing the depreciation processes
  • Increasing the cargo volume due to reducing fuel consumption costs
  • Increasing the responsibility of the employees
  • Rapid response to various abnormal situations
  • Reducing the cost of communication model “driver–the company”

In addition to it, there are a lot of offers on the market from companies that deal with GPS tracking services, so it is important to pay attention to all the technical characteristics of the system, as well as long-term warranty service support.


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