A Look At The Geotab GO Device: Past, Present, and Future
The original GO device was a 4 x 3 x 1.5 inch box, which recorded vehicle GPS data. Customers could download the GPS data through a “key” that connected to the device. The firmware was running on PIC16 at 4MIPS, which was sufficient for storing limited data at that time.
In 2002, the Geotab GO2 fleet management device was introduced to the market with strengthened data collection, including radio frequency (RF) download and live tracking. The GO2-KEY improved the key download speed – it was within 20 seconds as opposed to counting by minutes.
GO2-RF integrated an RF module, which could wirelessly transfer the data to the database when the vehicle passed within fairly close proximity to an RF receiver. Live tracking was also available by connecting an add-on modem to the GO device.
GO-LIVE allowed the customer to access the real time vehicle data. While the live method is the most convenient, cellular data costs were fairly high at that time so sending the data through air was not very popular in the market.
The printed circuit board (PCB) size was the same as the GO1, but the device was larger to improve the wiring stability. The multiple control unit (MCU) was upgraded to PIC18 at 10MIPS and the data FLASH was enlarged to 8MB in order to support the added functions.
In addition, GPS data was no longer the only information that the GO device was collecting. Auxiliary inputs were introduced to monitor part of ON/OFF status of vehicle circuitry, and the vehicle ignition on could also be detected.
Another new feature was the addition of the Relay Control Ability.The GO2 could store 20, 000 records, which meant that more than 2 days of data could be saved inside the device when sampling every 10 seconds.
A sub-version of the GO2 called the GO2-J1708 (supported J1708 interface) allowed the engine data to be recorded. The data FLASH was enlarged to support a 40K record size and 4 days of data.
The GO3 was released in 2006 to support more functions such as J1939 (CAN bus) and WIFI.
On the engine side, J1708 supports RS485 for legacy vehicle while J1939 supports CAN standard, which was becoming more popular around this time. Multiple download accesses including RF and WIFI were provided. The MCU was upgraded to PIC24 running at 20MIPS while data FLASH was enlarged to 32MB.
The GO4 was a superior upgrade from earlier versions.
A unique aspect of this model was the fact that the cellular modem was designed inside the device. An integrated and switchable modem allowed Geotab’s system to be more robust than previous versions. J1850 and ISO K&L Line were introduced with the GO4. Main MCU PIC24 was running at 20MIPS and a second PIC24 at 16MIPS was dedicated to control the peripheral interface to improve system stability.
The GO4 went through three different versions. V1 and V2 were released in the same year as the GO3, while V3 was launched three years later. V1 supported J1708 standard for engine communication. The automotive legacy protocols and J1939 CAN were introduced in V2. Both these elements as well as J1708 were applied in three separate boards.
In the GO4V3, J1708, J1939 and automotive legacy circuitry were integrated in one board to provide optimal flexibility for customers. Accelerometer was also introduced to measure the multi-axis acceleration of the vehicle.
In an effort to improve the overall plug-&-play customer experience, Geotab developed a compact size GO device in 2010 which was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
The GO5 was a streamlined, compact version of the GO4V3 functionality with no auxiliaries. It was 1 x 2 x 3 inches in size with GPS/Cellular antennas and a buzzer.
The GO5 could be plugged into the vehicle OBDII connector directly, which saved the installation effort and shortened the installation time from minutes to seconds. By working at 20MIPS, PIC24 MCU collects engine data from CAN, J1850 or ISO K&L Line, acquiring GPS and acceleration information, and then transferring the data to the database through GSM or 3G network.
The small form factor and powerful functions of the GO5 were attractive to many, but a number of customers still required auxiliaries. As a result, the Geotab GO6 was developed and Geotab began production in 2012.
This device was the first to offer IOX™ expandability in addition to all of the services provided by the GO5. PIC24 MCU ran at 40MIPS to increase processing capability, and the GO6 can transmit data through CDMA network.
The Geotab GO7 was brought to the market in 2014.
This unit allows for increased automotive protocol expansion. In addition to the standard CAN bus, the Mid-Speed CAN and Single Wire CAN are supported for legacy vehicle. There are also four Manufacturer Discretion Interfaces, which could be configured in firmware to fit different custom peripherals. PIC33 MCU runs at 60MIPS.
This device includes the IOX Expansion system of the GO6, as well as additional IOX expanders.
Geotab GO8: Plans for the Future
Geotab plans to have a GO device running over the Linux system to enhance the system processing capability and bring more flexibility to add third-party add-on for customers. The system will be running with 600~1G ARM Cortex-A8 32-bit RISC processor, 4Gb DDR3 and 4GB FLASH. Other features, such as smaller form factor or a portable version are also being considered.
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