Detroit marks fifth anniversary of Virtual Technician

June 15, 2016

Five years after its launch, Detroit has marked the 200,000th installation of its Detroit Connect Virtual Technician integrated remote diagnostic system hardware. The 200,000th Virtual Technician hardware unit was installed on a Freightliner Cascadia Evolution truck equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine delivered to Penske Truck Leasing Co.

“We appreciate customers like Penske who have selected Detroit Connect for their remote diagnostics and performance data needs,” said Matt Pfaffenbach, director, telematics for Daimler Trucks North America. “We are not only providing them with the information to make service decisions, the data also helps them have better insights into what’s behind fault codes. Since our launch five years ago, our goal has always been to provide connected solutions that contribute to uptime and lower maintenance costs.”

When Virtual Technician was introduced in 2011, parent company Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) was the first truck OEM to deliver a remote engine and aftertreatment diagnostic service. Today, Virtual Technician serves as the foundation of the Detroit Connect suite of connected vehicle solutions.

Developed in collaboration with DTNA’s partner Zonar Systems Inc, Virtual Technician is standard on all Freightliner and Western Star trucks equipped with Detroit heavy duty engines, including the DD13, DD15, and DD16. Utilizing Zonar’s VTHU communications hardware platform, the technology records engine or aftertreatment fault code events and uses cellular communications to notify fleets of the severity of the problem within two minutes. This helps fleets make informed business decisions so that they only service their vehicles when needed, ultimately spending less time in the shop, reducing diagnostic time and increasing vehicle uptime.

Detroit Connect is a central part of DTNA’s long-term vision for truck connectivity. Over the next several years, DTNA will continue to add new service packages to its telematics offerings, and also make its platforms accessible to third party software integration. The 200,000th installation of Virtual Technician hardware is a building block for the near future, where DTNA connects customers like Penske with critical truck data via its new cloud-based back office environment.

A new portal, launching in the second half of 2016, will provide Detroit Connect users additional information about overall fleet health, as well as let them take a deeper dive into specific fault events communicated through Virtual Technician. DTNA is also developing a new telematics platform that will be available on select truck models in 2017. The platform--which will introduce over-the-air engine parameter programming capabilities--will utilize new cellular-enabled communications hardware that can be used globally.