Design and Implementation of Vehicle Tracking System Using GPS/GSM and Implementation of Vehicle Tracking System Using GPS/GSM/GPRS Technology and Smartphone Application SeokJu Lee,

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  • Design and Implementation of Vehicle Tracking System Using GPS/GSM/GPRS Technology and

    Smartphone Application

    SeokJu Lee, Girma Tewolde, Jaerock Kwon Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Kettering University Flint, MI, USA

    {lee7704, gtewolde, jkwon}

    Abstract An efficient vehicle tracking system is designed and implemented for tracking the movement of any equipped vehicle from any location at any time. The proposed system made good use of a popular technology that combines a Smartphone application with a microcontroller. This will be easy to make and inexpensive compared to others. The designed in-vehicle device works using Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global system for mobile communication / General Packet Radio Service (GSM/GPRS) technology that is one of the most common ways for vehicle tracking. The device is embedded inside a vehicle whose position is to be determined and tracked in real-time. A microcontroller is used to control the GPS and GSM/GPRS modules. The vehicle tracking system uses the GPS module to get geographic coordinates at regular time intervals. The GSM/GPRS module is used to transmit and update the vehicle location to a database. A Smartphone application is also developed for continuously monitoring the vehicle location. The Google Maps API is used to display the vehicle on the map in the Smartphone application. Thus, users will be able to continuously monitor a moving vehicle on demand using the Smartphone application and determine the estimated distance and time for the vehicle to arrive at a given destination. In order to show the feasibility and effectiveness of the system, this paper presents experimental results of the vehicle tracking system and some experiences on practical implementations.

    KeywordsVehicle tracking; Microcontroller; Google Maps API; Smartphone application; GPS/GSM/GPRS technology;


    Vehicle tracking systems were first implemented for the shipping industry because people wanted to know where each vehicle was at any given time. These days, however, with technology growing at a fast pace, automated vehicle tracking system is being used in a variety of ways to track and display vehicle locations in real-time. This paper proposes a vehicle tracking system using GPS/GSM/GPRS technology and a Smartphone application to provide better service and cost-effective solution for users.

    On the basis of statistical data shown Fig. 1, one can observe that the world is experiencing accelerated growth in Smartphone ownership. As a result, Smartphone users are now more prevalent within the overall population than owners of

    basic mobile phones [1]. As Smartphones become more familiar to people and finding use in the day to day lives, their influence on society continues to grow. The main driving force for this accelerated growth in Smartphone usage is the availability of a large variety of applications to meet the needs of a wide range of users. In our project we developed a Smartphone application along with the in-vehicle tracking device. The two parts work together to offer the most convenience to the users as they become handy to track vehicle locations in real-time.

    Fig. 1. Changes in phone ownership, 2011-2012. The number of Smartphone owners increased 11% from 2011 to 2012. [1]

    A vehicle tracking is a prerequisite of the most basic function in all fleet management systems. A fleet management is the management of a companys transportation fleet. The fleet management system aims at improving the quality and efficiency of the industry by identifying major obstructions on the road and tracking real-time locations of their fleet on a map [2],[3]. Most of the vehicle tracking systems are designed by using GPS/GSM technology [4]. In vehicle tracking systems, a vehicle location is one of the most important components. The location and time information anywhere on earth is provided by using GPS technology [5].

    For wireless data transmission, GSM and SMS technology are commonly used. The SMS technology through GSM network and GSM modem provide a user with vehicle location

    2014 IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT)

    978-1-4799-3459-1/14/$31.00 2014 IEEE 353

    IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT), March 2014, Seoul

    INSPEC Accession Number: 14255652

  • information [6],[7]. Utilization of SMS technology has become popular because it does not require much cost. It is convenient and accessible way of transferring and receiving data with high reliability [8]. Instead of using SMS, the proposed vehicle tracking system uses the Smartphone application to track and monitor a vehicle location obtained from the in-vehicle tracking device controlled by a microcontroller. The vehicle location is automatically placed on Google maps, which make it easier for tracking a vehicle and provides users with more accurate vehicle location information.

    The basic purpose of a vehicle tracking system is to track a specific target vehicle or other objects. The tracking device is able to relay information concerning the current location of the vehicle and its speed, etc. Most of such tracking systems consist of an electronic device as usually installed in-vehicle and can be used for tracking motor cycles, buses, and trains. The vehicle tracking system proposed in the paper has the following features:

    Acquisition of a vehicle's geographic coordinates and a vehicles unique ID from an in-vehicle device in real-time using the GPS module

    Transmission of a vehicle's location information and a vehicles ID to a web server after a specified time interval using the GSM/GPRS module

    Database is designed to store and manage received vehicle's location information

    Whenever a user requests the vehicle location, it can be accessed from the database and monitored on Google maps in real-time using a Smartphone application


    Vehicle tracking systems are used around the world in many fields such as vehicle position tracking systems, vehicle anti-theft tracking systems, fleet management systems, and intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

    A. Bus Tracking System

    Lau [9] proposed simple bus tracking system in UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The tracking system provides students with the location information of a bus within a fixed route. The students are provided with a status of the bus after specified time interval using LED panel and a Smartphone application. Real-time bus tracking systems are beneficial to college students who attend colleges with large campuses. With the bus tracking system, they can spend more time studying, sleeping, or relaxing rather than waiting for a delayed bus. Spending less time waiting for a bus improves the comfortable and effective time management of the students as well. Also, the bus tracking system helps improve childrens safety when it is equipped in school buses.

    B. Vehicle Tracking and Anti-Theft Tracking System

    An anti-theft tracking system is one way to prevent or detect unauthorized access of devices considered valuable. Ramadan, Al-Khedher, and Al-Kheder [10] proposed design and implementation of a vehicle tracking and anti-theft system for protecting a vehicle from any intruders using GPS/GSM technology based on tracking systems. The system used

    Kalman filter [11] to reduce positional errors, thus improving the accuracy of the position determination. When a vehicles ignition is turned on, a vehicles owner receives a confirmation SMS that a vehicle is running now. If the access to the vehicle is illegal, the vehicles owner sends a SMS to turn off the vehicle. A laptop embedded with Google Earth is used for tracking and viewing the location and a status of the vehicle on a map. A Smartphone will be good alternative to replace the work that the laptop performs. Fig. 2 shows block diagram of the proposed system.

    Fig. 2. Block diagram of Vehicle Tracking and Anti-theft System [10]

    C. Vehicle tracking system using Social Network Service

    Vehicle tracking systems based on social network services such as Twitter and Facebook has attracted interest in a number of users [12]. Each in-vehicle device has an account of the twitter social network and can identify the vehicle location in social network on a regular basis. A web interface is used to display a vehicle location placed on Google maps, and a status of a vehicle like door open/close, and ignitions on/off. Also, users can send commands from the web interface to the in-vehicle device to restart the vehicle or to shut down the vehicle. The proposed system can be accessed from a Smartphone more easily because the Smartphone has available social network services. So, the system would become more efficient to users of social network and Smartphone, they allow quick monitoring of the location and status of the vehicle.


    In the development of the vehicle tracking system controlled by a microcontroller, hardware and software design techniques are needed.

    A. Arduino Microcontroller

    The Atmega328 based Arduino UNO R3 [13] microcontroller is used as the brain to control the vehicle tracking system. Arduino Shields are used for the GPS and the GSM/GPRS modules. A software program to control them is written in the C programming language, compiled and then saved into the microcontrollers flash memory.

    2014 IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT)


    IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT), March 2014, Seoul

    INSPEC Accession Number: 14255652

  • B. GPS module

    The Global Positioning System in vehicle tracking systems is commonly used to provide users with information such as the location coordinates, speed, time, and so on,