Coord, the data mobility company backed by Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, has launched a new tolls billing tool in the US which it says makes it easier for car-share, car rental and fleet operators to understand the true cost of tolls incurred by their vehicle.
In a blog post it says that today, in order to bill and account for tolls incurred on a trip, companies “have to wait weeks” for tolling authorities to bill them before they can pass the charge on to the responsible entity. Now, by taking in a GPS trace, Coord’s new Tolls API endpoint allows car-share, car rental and fleet operators to see the tolls incurred on a trip immediately after it’s completed. It promises this will lead to no more misbilling or customer complaints.
The blog reads:
Our new Tolls API endpoint takes in a GPS trace and returning all tolls along the route with their respective prices at the time they were incurred. Typically, fleet operators are already tracking the locations of their vehicles. All they have to do is to call the Tolls API with the GPS trajectory (latitude, longitude, and timestamp). Sounds simple, right? That’s the idea!
Our Tolls API covers over 80% of tollways in the United States. We’ve spent a lot of time aggregating and normalizing this data, which is commonly housed as PDFs or images on tolling authority websites or, in the case of dynamic tollways, as live feeds of various specifications. Structuring this data into a single format makes it easy for developers to query the data and understand the true cost of a trip across cities.
If you’re familiar with GPS data, you know that it has its shortcomings. GPS coordinates often aren’t exactly on the road, due to street canyon effect and other measurement errors. GPS is also unavailable in tunnels.
Another common issue is the frequency of GPS measurements. Fleet management systems typically collect vehicle locations only once a minute. And a gap of 1 minute or even 30 seconds is long enough to make raw GPS reading unreliable for applications like matching with locations of interest. The sparsity of the measurements makes matching GPS traces with the location of toll gantries unreliable.
Luckily we have a solution! The raw GPS locations can be processed before being used for toll matching. Such pre-processing is known as map-matching or path-inference, which is snapping GPS coordinates to the underlying road network and finding the most likely path taken by the vehicle.
The Tolls API first snaps the GPS coordinates to the road network, then compares the snapped geometry with the toll gantry locations to identify which tolls were crossed. As GPS measurements come with timestamps, the toll gantry cross time can also be estimated accurately by interpolating the time between the closest GPS locations to a toll gantry. The pre-processing step enriches the raw GPS data so that the Tolls API can reliably return the toll rates. The returned toll rates are detailed and categorized by vehicle information (number of axles, weight, height, etc) and payment methods (cash, transponder, credit card, etc).
With this product, car-share, car rental, and fleet operators can see the tolls incurred on a trip immediately after it’s completed, allowing them to bill right away. Instead of having charges appear weeks after your ride, imagine closing a car-share session or returning a car and having the tolls that you passed already included on your receipt! Having this transparency is impactful both on billing predictability and transparency as well as customer relationships.