UK +44 (0) 1799 53330 / US Tollfree +1-866-711-4880
Reading Time: 4 minutes

To discover the history of telematics, we need to first look at GPS and its origins.  Without the creation and eventual world-wide free access of GPS, telematics as we know it probably wouldn’t exist.

In the 1960s, the US Department of Defence developed Global Position System (GPS) technology.

Also in the 1960s, Theodore G. Paraskevakos’s work on Caller ID lead to the conception of M2M.  Another important milestone in the history of telematics as we know it today.

Simon Nora and Alain Minc devised the term “Telematics” in a report to the French government in 1978.

The term blends the French words télécommunications (“telecommunications”) and informatique (“computing science”). The use of the word “telematics” has changed since 1978 and is now generally only used to refer to vehicle telematics.


While the term wasn’t coined until 1978, the first use arguably occurred over 60 years ago with “Tachograph” technology (

To think our little black boxes essentially started as something that resembles a CD/disc – incredible how technology develops!

In the 1980s, the EU commissioned research into vehicle telematics with the aim to improve road safety.

This was therefore probably the start of wider telematics adoption in vehicles and consequently its uses today.


In 1993, the US Government allowed everyone to have free access to GPS.

Another crucial moment in the history of telematics because GPS is so key to the way telematics is used today.

The development and uses of telematics really took off in the 2000s.

Consequently, this decade has seen some quite important telematics milestones:

  • Fleet Management Systems embraced its uses
  • The Motor Insurance Industry also adopted it (in User Based Insurance – UBI)
  • Consumers gained access to GPS-based vehicle navigation systems – which became tracking systems
  • Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication made great improvements – the predecessor to Internet of Things (IoT)
  • The accuracy of GPS tracking increased

Most noteworthy in the history of telematics is how the basic concept of tracking hasn’t changed much.  The GPS aspect, which assists in providing information on location, vehicle speed, time and direction, remains as important as ever.

Some devices have more sophisticated sensors than others, that record additional measures.  For example, our devices also record accelerometer and gyro data, but the basic concept hasn’t changed much.

The interested party tends to determine how these measures might differ.  Insurance companies would want different scoring or predictive measures to analyze than a fleet manager.  Even different insurance companies may look at different risk factors.  The metrics considered useful to a “pay per mile” insurer would contrast to those of a “young driver” focused insurer.

Consequently, a customizable product really helps “bridge the gap”.

As for the future of telematics, the major focus seems to be IoT where the potential applications of telematics are certainly huge.  So it’s unlikely we’ll see signs of telematics uses slowing down!

It’s predicted that by 2020, 60% of all motor insurance policies will be UBI programs.  Furthermore, by 2025, nearly 90% of all vehicles globally are expected to have integrated telematics.  Finally, telematics is being implemented by OEMs and has paved the way for development of driverless cars, delivery drones and more.

So there you have it.  A brief history of Telematics and where it might be headed.  Watch this space as the possibilities are potentially endless!