vehicle tracking products
AT200 Low-Cost Tracking Device
Our lowest cost Vehicle Tracking Device ever! The AT200 is very small and simple to install,
with integrated antennas, LED status indicators and a single system cable. Despite its low cost,
our AT200 uses the same state of the art technology as our other devices, uBlox EVA-M8M GNSS,
Quectel M66 GPRS, Bluetooth, 3-axis MEMS accelerometer and ARM Cortex M3 processor. It also comes
with our usual 5 year warranty!
Our AT200 and other vehicle tracking devices are available on a hardware
only basis - either choose from our list of application service providers
or integrate into your own vehicle tracking application.
more about our AT200...
Vehicle Tracking Device FAQs
Q. What are GPS and GNSS?
A. GPS (Global Positioning System) is a network of 24 satellites
which are used to determine time, location, speed and heading very precisely. Other similar systems,
such as GLONASS, GALILEO and BeiDou, can also be used to provide the same data, globally and free of
charge. Collectively, these systems are now referred to as GNSS or Global Navigation Satellite Systems.
Signals from the GNSS satellites are very weak and therefore will not usually travel through metal or
buildings etc. In most circumstances, GNSS devices only work outdoors.
Q. What is GPRS?
A. The General Packet Radio Service is the original solution to connect devices
to the internet over GSM networks. It's launch, back in the year 2000, was fundamental to the growth
of the telematics industry, as it allowed data to be sent in real-time, very cost effectively.
For consumer handset applications, GPRS has been superceded by 3G and 4G of course, although uptake
of those services to telematics applications has been slow, due to the reletively high size and cost
of 3G/4G modules, compared with those that support only GPRS. A few network operators have announced
the end of their GPRS services (2017), although it seems that the majority will continue to operate
GPRS services for many years to come, partly due to the millions of telematics (fashionably referred
to as IoT these days) devices which are deployed and operating on GPRS only.
Q. Should we be buying 3G/4G devices?
A. In some territories, clearly there is no option to continue using GPRS beyond 2017,
Australia and Singapore for example. In many other territories, GPRS is expected to continue until at
least 2020 and possibly until 2025. In fact, it looks very likely that in the UK and other EU countries,
GPRS services will outlive 3G! So, for a truly future-proof device, 4G should be the goal.
Unfortunately, 4G modules are still very much larger and more expensive than GPRS or 3G modules (approx.
a factor of 8 at time of writing), which makes them impractical and uneconomical for everyday telematics
applications. Astra Telematics will be releasing devices in 2017 to support 3G (with GPRS fall-back).
We anticipate that it will be another 2-3 years until the use of 4G modules becomes technically and commercially
Q. Where do our devices work?
A. Our devices work anywhere in the world, subject to suitable GPRS/3G network services.
Q. What warranty is provided with Astra devices?
A. All our devices are supplied with an industy-leading 5 year warranty.
Q. How can I update device firmware?
A. All our devices support a fast a simple method to update firmware remotely,
which can be done by sending a simple command to the device by SMS or TCP. The process is safe,
reliable and fast, usually complete in less than 5 minutes. We provide free firmware updates with
all our devices.
Q. What about driver ID?
A. All of our devices support driver ID using iButtons (Dallas Keys) or RFID/NFC ID cards.
Some of our devices also support bluetooth based driver ID. Please refer to individual device data sheets
product feature comparison matrix
Q. What about driver behaviour?
A. All of our devices support driver behaviour, including:
fuel consumption (CANBus devices only)
Q. What is CANBus and how can it be used with Astra Telematics devices?
A CANBus is the generic name given to the communication networks used in vehicles to interconnect
the ECU with sensors, actuators, controls and the dashboard display, amongst other things. The CANBus
network typically contains some data that is of interest to fleet managers, such as fuel consumption.
Unfortunately, the data is formatted by each vehicle manufacturer using proprietary, non-standard
protocols. Furthermore, the manufacturers do not often share those protocols, making it very difficult
for us to access the data we are interested in. Fortunately, there are some standards in the industry
that can help us, namely OBD (J1979) and FMS (J1939)
Q. What is OBD (J1979)?
OBD or On Board Diagnostics defines a standard format to access vehicle diagnostic data for cars and
light commercial vehicles (vans). For the past 10 years or so, it has been mandatory for vehicle
manufacturers to provide an OBD port which conforms to the J1979 standard. The standard defines the
connector type and pinout, along with a set of diagnostic commands which can be used to query the vehicle
data. Unfortunately, the standard does not include fuel consumption data. Fuel level data is included,
but it is optional and many manufacturers choose not to provide it. Astra Telematics devices support the
OBD standard (CANBus compatible devices, such as the AT240 and AT110) and where fuel level is available,
our devices estimate fuel consumption based on fuel level and journey distance. Note that this data is
estimated and will differ from the fuel consumption figure displayed on the vehicle dashboard display.
Also note that OBD requires read/write access to the CANBus and therefore contactless CAN adapters,
such as our CC001 cannot be used, as they allow read-only access.
Q. What is FMS (J1939)?
FMS or Fleet Management System is a standard protocol supported by a group of HGV manufacturers
to provide useful vehicle data for 3rd party devices in a safe way, without risk of interfering with the
vehicle's systems. The data format is standardised across all supporting manufacturers and the standard
is openly available, so that companies such as Astra Telematics can read and use the data. Furthermore,
the FMS standard includes fuel consumption data, along with a wealth of other stuff that is potentially
useful for fleet managers. FMS is not universally avilable on all vehicles manufactured, even by those that
are involved in the standard. FMS is often a manufacturer option, although recently it appears to be available
on the majority of new HGVs supplied.
Astra Telematics CANBus compatible devices (AT110 and AT240) support the FMS standard and can read data
directly from HGVs which have FMS available.
more details on the FMS Standard can be found here
Q. Can we get fuel consumption data without FMS?
Vehicles without FMS will require the use of a 3rd party gateway device to convert the manufacturer
proprietary vehicle data to FMS standard, so that it can be read by our devices. We can advise on compatability
and selection of an FMS gateway device. Please send us the vehicle manufacturer, model and year, for
advice on availability of compatible FMS getway devices.
Q. What is a contactless CANBus adapter and why are they useful?
A. Contactless CANBus adapters, such as our CC001, are used to read data from
the vehicle CANBus without an electrical contact. The contactless adapter simply clips over the
insulated CANBus wires, avoiding potential issues with interference or warranty liabilities etc.
Note that contactless CANBus adapters allow read-only functions and therefore cannot be used for
OBD applications, which require read/write access to the CANBus.
Q. What is an ASP and why do I need one?
A. Our devices send data, such as location and status of a remote
vehicle, to a computer server, over the internet. An ASP or Application Service Provider
allows you to use that data for your chosen application in a user-friendly format, to view maps,
reports and alerts etc. Astra Telematics are a supplier of devices only. Many of our clients
have their own ASP solution, and some use those provided by 3rd party ASPs on a pay-per-vehicle
Click here for a
list of ASPs that support our devices
Q. Should I use an existing ASP or develop my own solution?
A. That depends on the number of devices that you expect to deploy and the resources
that you have available for development and support. Few fleets have sufficient numbers of vehicles
to justify the development and support costs of running your own ASP service. The break-even figure
depends on many factors, but we would suggest it is in the region of 1000s of vehicles/devices, rather
than 100s. Development time should be considered in the region of 6 to 9 months at least, although this
can be reduced by starting with an open source solution such as
openGTS, those solutions are quite basic and may
require significant additional development to meet your requirements.
Q. Can I access my fleet management data when away from the office?
A. Almost all of our supporting
Application Service Providers (ASPs)
require only an internet browser to use their systems.
In this case, there is no need to download or install any software at all. Many also provide
mobile applications which can be used from smartphones.
Q. Will these devices work in my trailers and other assets without a power source?
A. All our devices are designed to operate from a permanent external voltage source,
typically by connection to the vehicle fusebox or battery. All our devices have internal back-up batteries
to allow short-term autonomous operation in the event of a power failure (potentially caused by tampering,
or vehicle/battery fault). Currently, we do not offer a device for long term autonomous operation from
internal battery, without external power connection, although we plan to release such a device later this
Q. Will the system cause excessive drain on my vehicle battery?
A. Vehicles can typically be left stationary for many weeks with
the system fully active and without any battery problems. For motorcycles and vehicles which may be parked
for longer periods (more than 2 weeks), we recommend the use of low-power mode with our devices. Please
refer to our
Low Power Mode Application Note
for more details.
Q. Can these tracking devices be moved from one vehicle to another?
A. Yes, this is usually no problem, due to the tiny
dimensions of our devices.
Q. Where can I find out more about using Astra Telematics products?
A. New Application Service Providers should contact Astra Telematics directly.
End users requiring a complete vehicle tracking solution should choose from the list of available
Application Service Providers (ASPs)
and contact them directly for further details and a demonstration.