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August 20, 2014 2:25 PM, EDT
PeopleNet to Offer Android Platform, Unveils Plans for Video-Safety Systems
Brian McLaughlin by Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — PeopleNet said it will soon expand its onboard fleet-management applications to Android mobile devices and unveiled plans to launch its own video-based safety technology.

The company also is preparing to offer a new cloud-based “mobile gateway” designed to accelerate the transfer of data, reduce installation time for its onboard computers and make it easier to integrate new technologies, PeopleNet executives said here Aug. 19 at the company’s annual user conference.

PeopleNet President Brian McLaughlin said the company plans to certify a variety of Android devices, predominantly rugged tablets, for its customers to use as displays for its onboard computers. Those devices would serve as an alternative to the company’s existing Windows-based fixed-mount displays.

He said customers will buy the Android devices directly from PeopleNet rather than a third party.

PeopleNet envisions a “corporately owned, personally enabled” strategy, where trucking companies own the devices but can allow their drivers to download applications for personal use, such as Skype and entertainment apps.

The new mobile gateway, which will provide 4G LTE wireless service, will serve as a hub that provides connectivity to a variety of devices, such as in-cab displays, mobile devices and wearables, McLaughlin said.

When that product becomes available, customers will choose between the mobile gateway and PeopleNet’s current 3G onboard computer, he said.

McLaughlin said the Android platform and the mobile gateway will be fully launched and in the field in the “near term,” and certainly before its conference next year.

PeopleNet also showcased its plans to provide “surround vision” for drivers through onboard cameras.

Those video-based systems will begin with a forward-facing camera that will save recordings 10 seconds before and after a crash or hard-braking event. That video could exonerate a driver after a crash, said Mike Nalepka, vice president of business development.

The company also plans to offer side cameras to assist drivers while they’re turning and rearview cameras that would help them back into a dock. Those cameras would provide wide-view video from the side or back of the truck, which the driver could view directly on the PeopleNet in-cab display.

PeopleNet displayed three commercial-grade tablet models to its customers at the conference and asked them for input on which would become its first Android device.

McLaughlin added that PeopleNet also could offer the Android operating system on its latest fixed display, the PD4, which the company launched earlier this year as the successor to its Blu.2 product. PeopleNet also offers its applications on rugged handhelds from Intermec and Motorola Solutions.