True real-time tracking showing crystal clear images of on-the-move fleet vehicles came a step closer last week following Google’s acquisition of Skybox Imaging.
The $500 million buy-out will help Google add an unprecedented level of functionality to Google Maps, which for several years has been an integral part of many leading tracking and telematics systems.
Skybox satellites produce video images and stills at a resolution of just over 1m per pixel – and can track single cars travelling along a road. The technology could provide a raft of new features, and enable fleet operators to observe their vehicles in real time anywhere in the UK from any internet enabled computer.
Aerial imagery – showing users where their vehicles are in extreme detail – has been part of the latest tracking systems for some time. However, the high fidelity pictures are taken from low-flying planes, not satellites. The images, often years out of date, frequently show roads and building that have changed.
By acquiring Skybox, Google will be able to update its images more frequently and offer more detailed imagery for specialist applications such as media.
Simon Taylor, of TrackCompare.co.uk, said: “Many of our customers ask if the images they see on their screens are live and before now the answer has always been no. While this new technology does hold the promise of achieving a truly live image of vehicles on the road, there are limitations. With just twenty four satellites in orbit, it will be impossible to observe any vehicle at any time and what if it is a cloudy day? It is likely to be an on-demand service and carry a hefty price tag.’