VEHICLE LOCATING AND COMMUNICATING METHOD AND APPARATUS
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
This application is a continuation of pending U.S. appli-
cation Ser. No. 08/279,211, filed Jul. 22,1994, entitled 10
"Vehicle Locating and Communicating Method and
Apparatus" by Larry C. Wortham, pending, which is a
continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/178,022,
filed Jan. 6,1994, entitled "Vehicle Locating and Com-
municating Method and Apparatus" by Larry C. j5
Wortham, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,398,190 issued Mar. 14,
1995, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser.
No. 07/920,644, filed Jul. 28, 1992, entitled "Vehicle
Locating and Communicating Method and Apparatus
Using Cellular Telephone Network" by Larry C. 20
Wortham, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,299,132, issued Mar. 29,
1994, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser.
No. 07/642,436, filed Jan. 17, 1991, entitled "Vehicle
Locating and Communicating Method and Apparatus"
by Larry C. Wortham, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,155,689, 25
issued Oct. 13, 1992.
Historically, in industries utilizing multiple vehicles traveling in various geographical regions, such as in the long haul trucking industry, drivers of the vehicles must periodically communicate with a base or home office to report information such as present location of the vehicle, the 45 number of hours driven and any problems experienced with the vehicle. In such industries where there is a need to determine the geographical location of a vehicle, tracking systems utilizing Loran-C receivers and microwave transmitters have been employed for vehicle location. Use of 50 such equipment tends to be limited solely to locating and tracking the vehicles. In many instances, the only means of locating a vehicle in service consists of the driver of the vehicle stopping, getting out of the vehicle, and calling a report into the home base on a public pay phone. To date, the 55 cellular industry has failed to penetrate the trucking market and other industries where vehicle locating is desired for such reasons as high start-up costs for obtaining terminal equipment and high operating costs.
The locating and communicating method and apparatus of the present invention overcome the foregoing and other problems associated with the prior art utilizing existing 65 cellular telephone system services and information. A microprocessor interrogates a cellular telephone located in the
vehicle to obtain location information received by the cellular phone in an overhead message stream transmitted from the particular cellular system providing service at the time of the interrogation. A call is initiated from the cellular telephone to a host controller for display of the location of the vehicle on a map and textual display of any other vehicle information transmitted from the vehicle. A voice activation/ recognition device is connected to the microprocessor and a hands-free microphone and a speaker are connected to the voice activation/recognition device to allow for hands free operation of the system by the driver of the vehicle.
In a second embodiment of the invention, the entire system is located within the vehicle. The microprocessor interrogates the cellular phone to obtain location information from the message stream, processes the information, then causes the information to be displayed on a connected display.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
For a more complete understanding of the present invention and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following Detailed Description taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating communication between the vehicle and the host controller of the present invention over a mobile cellular system;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the in-vehicle portion of the locating and communicating system of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the host controller portion of the locating system of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a flow chart of the operation of the in-vehicle portion of the locating and communicating system of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a flow chart of the operation of the host portion of the locating and communicating system of the present invention; and
FIG. 6 is a block diagram of the hardware of an in-vehicle locating system incorporating a second embodiment of the present invention.
Referring now to the Drawings, and more particularly to FIG. 1 wherein there is shown an illustration of the locating and communicating system of the present invention incorporating a central data gathering device or host controller 10 having a display 12 and a keyboard 14 connected thereto. The host controller 10 communicates as shown by directional arrow 16 with a mobile telephone switching office 18 in turn communicating as indicated by directional arrow 20 with a particular cell transmitter 22 for transmitting and receiving signals from a vehicle 24 equipped with a mobile cellular transceiver (not shown) connected to at least one microprocessor (not shown).
As shown in FIG. 1, an overhead message stream containing cellular system identification information, including the SID number and, where transmitted, the cell identification number and transmitter site coordinates, is transmitted from the cell transmitter 22 and received by the in-vehicle portion of the locating and communicating system (not shown). The signal is then read by the in-vehicle portion of the locating and communicating system to determine the existence of sufficient signal strength for transmission from the vehicle 24. Upon reading a sufficient signal strength