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Publication numberWO1998030920 A2
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/US1998/000661
Publication date16 Jul 1998
Filing date9 Jan 1998
Priority date9 Jan 1997
Also published asWO1998030920A3
Publication numberPCT/1998/661, PCT/US/1998/000661, PCT/US/1998/00661, PCT/US/98/000661, PCT/US/98/00661, PCT/US1998/000661, PCT/US1998/00661, PCT/US1998000661, PCT/US199800661, PCT/US98/000661, PCT/US98/00661, PCT/US98000661, PCT/US9800661, WO 1998/030920 A2, WO 1998030920 A2, WO 1998030920A2, WO 9830920 A2, WO 9830920A2, WO-A2-1998030920, WO-A2-9830920, WO1998/030920A2, WO1998030920 A2, WO1998030920A2, WO9830920 A2, WO9830920A2
InventorsJeffrey Hamburg, Cheuk Nam Yuen
ApplicantRoadtrac Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
Personal vehicle tracking system having cd-rom storing street map data
WO 1998030920 A2
Abstract
A personal vehicle tracking system featuring a street map data base (352) stored on a CD-ROM disk (350). The vehicle tracking system comprises a personal monitoring station (100) and a vehicle unit (200) which communicate with each other via a cellular telephone connection. The personal monitoring station (100) comprises a personal computer (310), a CD-ROM drive (340), a display monitor (330) and a modem (320). The CD-ROM disk stores street map data (352) representing a street map for a predetermined geographical region, vehicle communication software (354) for performing enabling communication with the vehicle unit (200) and vehicle monitoring software (358) for performing vehicle tracking operations. The personal computer (310) is connected to the modem (320) and under control of the vehicle communication software (354) establishes a cellular telephone connection with the vehicle unit (200) and receives vehicle location information from the vehicle unit (200) to display the vehicle location on the street map.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
What is claimed is:
1. Computer software embodied on a computer-readable CD-ROM disk for controlling a personal computer to remotely monitor the location of a vehicle and to display information depicting the location of the vehicle, comprising: a street map database segment including information to be processed for controlling a personal computer to display on a display monitor a street map of a geographical region in which the vehicle may be located; a vehicle communication software segment including information to be processed for controlling the personal computer to establish a cellular telephone connection with a controller in the vehicle; a vehicle monitoring software segment including information to be processed for controlling the personal computer to receive vehicle location information from the controller representing the location of the vehicle within the geographical region; and a display software segment including information to be processed for controlling the personal computer to display the location of the vehicle on the street map.
2. The computer software of claim 1, wherein the vehicle monitoring software segment further includes information to be processed for controlling the personal computer to receive vehicle speed information from the controller representing the speed of travel of the vehicle, and wherein the user interface software segment further includes information for displaying vehicle speed in the graphical form of a speedometer on the display monitor.
3. The computer software of claim 1, wherein the vehicle monitoring software segment further includes instructions to be processed for controlling the personal computer to compute vehicle speed based on vehicle location information received from the vehicle.
4. A personal vehicle tracking system comprising: a vehicle unit mounted in a vehicle to be tracked, the vehicle unit comprising: a global positioning system (GPS) receiver that receives GPS signals; a cellular transceiver; a modem connected to the cellular transceiver; and a controller connected to the GPS receiver, to the cellular transceiver and to the modem, the controller processing the GPS signals to generate location information for the vehicle; a personal monitoring station comprising: a modem; a CD-ROM drive capable of reading a CD-ROM disk; a CD-ROM disk storing street map data representing a street map for a predetermined geographical region, vehicle communication software for enabling communication with the vehicle unit, vehicle monitoring software for performing vehicle tracking operations and display software for controlling the display of vehicle location and other information; and a personal computer connected to the modem, and under control of the vehicle communication software, establishing a cellular telephone connection with the vehicle unit, and under control of the vehicle monitoring software, receiving vehicle location information from the vehicle unit for display on the street map.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein the controller of the vehicle unit receives vehicle speed information for transmission to the personal monitoring station, and wherein the personal computer, under control of the vehicle monitoring software, receives the vehicle speed information transmitted by the vehicle unit for display.
6. The system of claim 4, wherein the controller of the vehicle unit periodically generates location information which is transmitted to the personal monitoring station, and wherein the personal computer, under control of the vehicle monitoring software, generates vehicle direction information based on current and prior location information received from the vehicle unit.
7. The system of claim 4, wherein the controller of the vehicle unit periodically generates location information which is transmitted to the personal monitoring station, and wherein the personal computer, under control of the vehicle monitoring software, generates vehicle speed information based on current and prior location information received from the vehicle unit.
8. A method for tracking a vehicle from a personal computer comprising steps of: in a vehicle: receiving global positioning system signals and generating location information based thereon; at a personal monitoring station where the personal computer is located: establishing a cellular telephone connection with the vehicle by way of a modem provided in the vehicle and a modem connected to the personal computer; receiving location information from the vehicle via the cellular telephone connection; accessing in the personal computer street map data representing a street map for a predetermined geographical region; and displaying the location of the vehicle on the street map data.
9. The method of claim 8, and further comprising in the vehicle transmitting vehicle speed information to the personal monitoring station, and at the personal monitoring station, receiving the vehicle speed information for display in the graphical form of a speedometer.
10. A personal monitoring station for remotely tracking a vehicle having a vehicle unit installed therein which includes a cellular telephone and a global positioning system (GPS) receiver which generates location information of the vehicle, the personal monitoring station comprising: a modem; computer software including street map data representing a street map for a predetermined geographical region, vehicle communication software for enabling communication with the vehicle unit and vehicle monitoring software for performing vehicle tracking operations; and a personal computer storing the computer software in a memory, the personal computer connected to the modem and under control of the vehicle communication software establishing a cellular telephone connection with the vehicle unit and under control of the vehicle monitoring software receiving vehicle location information from the vehicle unit to display the vehicle location on the street map.
11. The personal monitoring station of claim 10, wherein the vehicle monitoring software segment further includes information to be processed for controlling the personal computer to receive vehicle speed information from the controller representing the speed of travel of the vehicle, and wherein the user interface software segment further includes information for displaying the vehicle speed in the graphical form of a speedometer on the display monitor.
12. The personal monitoring station of claim 10, wherein the vehicle monitoring software segment further includes instructions to be processed for controlling the personal computer to compute vehicle speed based on vehicle location information received from the vehicle.
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

PERSONAL VEHICLE TRACKING SYSTEM HAVING CD-ROM STORING STREET MAP DATA

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a vehicle tracking system, and more particularly to a personal vehicle tracking system in which street map data are stored on a portable memory medium for use in a personal computer at a personal monitoring station.

Vehicle tracking systems are in use, particularly for tracking trucks in a fleet. A central monitoring station comprising a high power computer which stores large amounts of map information into which it incorporates received location information for displaying the location of trucks.

For personal security and other reasons, it has become desirable for consumer persons to track the location of the vehicle. A much less expensive alternative is needed to enable consumers to track the location of their vehicles from a personal computer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly, the present invention is directed to a personal vehicle tracking system featuring street map data stored on a portable memory medium, such as CD-ROM disk. The vehicle tracking system comprises a personal monitoring station and a vehicle unit which communicate with each other via a cellular telephone connection. The personal monitoring station comprises a personal computer, a CD-ROM drive, a modem, a display monitor and a modem. The CD-ROM disk stores street map data representing a street map for a predetermined geographical region, vehicle communication software for enabling communication with the vehicle unit and vehicle monitoring software for performing vehicle tracking operations. Alternatively, the street map and control software is distributed by way of the Internet. The personal computer is connected to the modem and under control of the vehicle communication software establishes a cellular telephone connection with the vehicle unit and receives vehicle location information from the vehicle unit to display the vehicle location on the street map.

The vehicle unit is mounted in a vehicle to be tracked and comprises a global positioning system (GPS) receiver that receives GPS signals, a cellular transceiver, a modem connected to the cellular transceiver, and a controller connected to the GPS receiver, the cellular transceiver and to the modem. The controller processes the GPS signals to generate location information for the vehicle and transmits this information to a personal monitoring station in response to the personal monitoring station.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a vehicle tracking system featuring a street map database stored on a portable CD-ROM disk to enable a user with a personal computer and a modem to track the location of a vehicle.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a vehicle tracking system featuring the ability to track a vehicle from a personal computer and to download information from the vehicle representing the location, speed and direction of travel of the vehicle.

The above and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become more readily apparent when reference is made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a personal vehicle tracking system according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a diagram showing the content of the CD-ROM in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a vehicle unit according to the present invention. FIG. 4 is a flow diagram depicting the operation of the personal monitoring station in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows a display screen that is displayed on the display monitor for showing street map vehicle speed and direction information.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram depicting the operation of the vehicle unit in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates the personal vehicle tracking system 100 according to the present invention. The vehicle tracking system 100 comprises a vehicle unit 200 and a personal monitoring station 300. The vehicle unit 200 and personal monitoring station 300 communicate with each other via a telephone network 400 and cellular network 410. The personal monitoring station 300 comprises a personal computer (PC) 310, a modem 320, a display monitor 330 and a CD-ROM drive 340. A CD-ROM disk 350 storing several key software components and information is also provided for use at the personal monitoring station 300. The personal computer 310 is, for example, an IBM compatible PC having a Pentium™ or faster processor. The modem 320 is any standard modem having a reverse dialing feature, such as those made and sold by US Robotics, Inc. It is a feature common to most modems.

FIG. 2 shows the information stored on the CD-ROM disk 350 which contains several software segments, including street map data 352, vehicle communication software 354, user interface software 356 which includes display generating software 357, and vehicle monitoring software 358 that responds to and processes location information transmitted from a vehicle unit. The street map data 352 is unique for each major geographical or metropolitan region, and thus the CD-ROM disk 350 distributed for use in each geographical region is unique. The CD-ROM disk 350 is accessed via the CD-ROM drive 340. Initially, the control software content of the CD-ROM disk, including the vehicle communication software 354, user interface software 356, display software 357, and vehicle monitoring software 358 is installed on the hard disk of the personal computer 310. When in operation, these software modules are loaded into random access memory (RAM) of the personal computer. The street map data 352 on the other hand can either be loaded onto the hard disk of the personal computer for access when in operation, or maintained on the CD-ROM disk 350 to be accessed via the CD-ROM drive 340 when the street map data 352 is needed. By providing the street map data on a portable memory media such as a CD-ROM disk, the vehicle tracking capability is made much more attractive to consumers who wish to be able to track their vehicles. Indeed, the personal computer 310 may be a portable laptop computer having an internal (or external modem) which makes the tracking capability even more portable.

FIG. 3 illustrates the vehicle unit 200 in greater detail. The vehicle unit 200 comprises at its heart a controller 210 that controls the overall operation of the vehicle unit 200. The controller 210 is a microprocessor device, such as one manufactured and sold by

Motorola, Inc. or Intel Corporation, and is controlled by software stored in the memory 212 connected thereto. A cellular telephone transceiver 230 and cellular handset with keypad 232 is connected to the controller 210 to enable cellular communication with the personal monitoring station 300 as well as with other telephone destinations. The keypad on the cellular handset 232 may be a point of user interface with the vehicle unit 200.

Alternatively, a separate keypad 240 is provided for user interface and input. A vehicle- mounted speakerphone 234 is also provided and connected to the cellular transceiver 230. An antenna 236 is connected to the cellular transceiver 230 as is well know in the art.

In order to communicate with the personal monitoring station 300, a modem 250 is provided and connected to the controller 210 and to the cellular transceiver 230. The vehicle unit 200 may initiate communication with the personal monitoring station 300 or may receive a cellular telephone call from the personal monitoring station 300 via the cellular transceiver 230 and modem 250. The vehicle unit further comprises a global positioning system (GPS) receiver 260 connected to a GPS antenna 262 and to the controller 210. The GPS receiver 260 receives GPS signals transmitted from the GPS satellite network and couples the signals to the controller 210. The controller 210 processes the GPS signals in order to determine the precise location (latitude/longitude) of the vehicle and generates location information representative thereof. The vehicle unit 200 periodically receives the

GPS signals and generates the location information to enable remote tracking of the vehicle unit location.

In the case where a vehicle has an electronic speedometer shown at reference numeral 292, the controller 210 of the vehicle unit 200 further receives as input vehicle speed information supplied by the electronic speedometer 292, and transmits the information to the personal monitoring station.

The vehicle unit 200 is installed in a vehicle whose location is desired to be tracked. The controller 210 and associated peripheral devices are contained in a housing which is preferably installed in a hidden location in the vehicle to prevent tampering. The vehicle unit 200 may be a part of a vehicle security system. In this case, a handheld remote transmitter device 270 is provided to activate various features of the vehicle security system, such as opening doors, windows, starting the engine, and also triggering a panic alarm by depressing a panic button 272. The vehicle unit 280 includes a remote receiver 280 connected to the controller 210 that receives signals transmitted by the handheld remote transmitter device 270. Other security measures may be provided by the vehicle unit 200.

Turning now to FIG. 4, the operation of the personal monitoring station 300 will be described. This operation is governed by the various software modules stored in the CD- ROM disk 350. In step 510, the personal computer 310 dials, via the modem 320, the cellular telephone number of the vehicle unit 200. In step 520, the cellular transceiver 230 of the vehicle unit receives the call and a cellular link is established between modems of the vehicle unit 200 and personal monitoring station 300. In step 530, the personal monitoring station 300 receives the GPS location information from the vehicle unit 200, together with vehicle speed information, if it is made available and supplied by an electronic speedometer in the vehicle. While the cellular connection exists between the personal monitoring station 300 and the vehicle unit 200, the personal monitoring station 300 will periodically receive updated GPS location information and vehicle speed information (if made available) from the vehicle unit 200, and this location information will be processed by the personal computer 310 to register the vehicle unit location (and speed) in the street map.

In particular, in step 540, under control of the vehicle monitoring software 358, the computer 310 computes the vehicle direction based on information representing the location of the vehicle at successive transmission updates (current location information and the prior location information). In addition, if the vehicle unit does not have capability to tap and transmit vehicle speed information, then also in step 540, under control of the vehicle monitoring software 358, the computer 310 computes the vehicle speed based upon the distance traveled between the current location information and the prior location information, and the time elapsed between transmissions of the current and prior location information. For example, when the vehicle unit 200 and personal monitoring station 100 are connected, the controller 210 in the vehicle unit 200 transmits location information on a constant periodic basis. The computer 310, knowing the frequency of the transmission events, can compute the vehicle speed for the corresponding distance the vehicle has traveled between transmission events. In step 550, the current vehicle location is displayed on the street map under control of the display software 357. In step 560, the vehicle speed is displayed in a graphical form of a speedometer on the display screen, also under control of the display software 357. Similarly, in step 570, under control of the display software 357, the vehicle direction is displayed in the form of a compass, with the compass needle pointing in the direction of the vehicle.

FIG. 5 shows an example of a display screen created for display on the display monitor 330 of the personal monitoring station 300. On a display screen there are graphical elements for a speedometer 360 and a compass 362. The street map is shown at reference numeral 364. The vehicle speed information is displayed by the position of the needle of the speedometer 360 and the vehicle direction is displayed by position of the needle of the compass 362. The vehicle location is indicated by a vehicle icon 366 on the street map 364. Turning to FIG. 6, the operation of the vehicle unit 200 will be described in connection with the present invention. In step 600, the controller 210 of the vehicle unit processes the GPS signals to compute updated location information of the vehicle unit based upon GPS location signals. In addition, in step 610, the vehicle speed is detected by way of the vehicle speed sensor 280. In step 620, the vehicle unit receives a cellular telephone call from the personal monitoring station 300. The call is authorized, using passwords established by the user, and a modem connection is made in step 630. In step 640, the vehicle unit periodically transmits GPS location information and vehicle speed information (if such speed information is made available from an electronic speedometer) for processing and display by the personal monitoring station 300.

The present invention provides a significant advancement to vehicle tracking systems by enabling a person with a computer and a modem to track the location of their vehicle.

The vehicle can be tracked from any location where a personal computer (desktop, laptop, etc.) and a modem are provided, together with the software on the CD-ROM disk. Alternatively, the street map data and control software is distributed to personal computers of users via the Internet. Users could select which geographical region street map data they desire and download the street map data for a prescribed license fee. The control software, which can also be downloaded for a licensing fee from the internet, is ultimately stored on the hard disk drive of a personal computer, together with the street map data.

The present invention is also envisioned as an additional feature of a vehicle security system in which the services of a central monitoring station are employed to be automatically alerted by the vehicle security system when a security breach has occurred.

The above description is intended by way of example only and is not intended to limit the present invention except as set forth in the following claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5299132 *28 Jul 199229 Mar 1994By-Word Technologies, Inc.Vehicle locating and communicating method and apparatus using cellular telephone network
US5539810 *28 Dec 199323 Jul 1996Highwaymaster Communications, Inc.Data messaging in a communications network
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
CN101988833A *30 Jul 201023 Mar 2011富士通天株式会社Navigation system, in-vehicle device, navigation method, and computer-readable medium
EP1172663A2 *28 Jun 200116 Jan 2002Texas Instruments IncorporatedSystem for wireless location and direction indication including multiple devices
EP1172663A3 *28 Jun 200130 Jan 2002Texas Instruments IncorporatedSystem for wireless location and direction indication including multiple devices
US20120089492 *20 Dec 201112 Apr 2012Location Based Technologies Inc.System and method for creating and managing a personalized web interface for monitoring location information on individuals and objects using tracking devices
Classifications
International ClassificationG08G1/127, G01C21/26
Cooperative ClassificationG01C21/26, G08G1/127
European ClassificationG08G1/127, G01C21/26
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