A group of students from the University of Sydney, led by computer science undergraduate, Jenna Bermeister, has won this year’s Telstra Machine to Machine (M2M) University Challenge for their InGear product, tying first with a group from La Trobe University.
The annual Telstra challenge requires contestants to come up with an idea to exploit the Telstra NextG network for M2M applications. Fifteen university teams from across Australia entered the 2013 competition.
InGear is a mobile device which logs learner driver mileage. It is designed to make the Road and Traffic Authority’s (RTA) pen and paper tracking system less tedious by storing all data recorded by the digital device online.
Current legislation requires learner drivers to record at least 120 hours of supervised driving before attempting the Driving Test and graduating to a Provisional 1 licence.
Bermeister said the team decided on the InGear concept as the majority had either completed or were currently on their Learner’s Licence.
“We had all been through the process of having to fill in each trip in our log books,” she said. “Being IT students, we were really interested in the idea of automating this process and how we could use the Telstra NextG network to do that.”
“If you can’t afford a professional instructor, one of your parents has to sit with you while you’re driving, for 120 hours. That’s a lot of hours for everyone. But if you don’t have the log book with you, this trip may be missing from your log book.”
The InGear device requires only a power supply to function, with the current prototype utilising USB power drawn from a vehicle's cigarette lighter socket.
Bermeister told ARN the group decided its main source of information for logging trips would be through the GPS unit and accelerometer sensors within the device.
"We did look into pulling data from a car's sensors, but decided that it complicated setup and maintenance, and limited the amount of cars our device could be used in," she said.
Moving forward, Bermeister said the group will research ways to gain more accurate and comprehensive information about driving habits as on-board diagnostics grow in adoption.
The group is also interested in making InGear available for company car management systems as logbooks are commonly used in those scenarios.