Gps Gsm Based Vehicle Tracking System Computer Science Essay

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Abstract--- After purchasing a vehicle, owner's first consideration is its security. The reason behind is high cost of vehicle, or expensive bulk contents inside. It is said a thief needs 1 minute to pick standard vehicle lock and break into it. So the importance of vehicle security cannot be neglected. There are three types of security devices which include Alarms, Electronic and Mechanical Immobilisers and Tracking Devices.

This paper intends affordable cost vehicle tracking system by using GPS and GSM. This technology tracks the drive of vehicle and keeps records for current and previous positions which can be easily seen on Map by using internet. Tracking system, which is installed in vehicle gets the current position of vehicle by GPS antenna and sent to a web server via text message through a GSM antenna. The GPS is used for positioning and GSM is used for Communication between server and unit. The position of moving or static vehicle is then saved in database for live and previous history of tracking. Microphone and speaker can also be attached for voice communication with driver. New tracking techniques with better performance are currently under research but this technology is widely used in different countries.

Keywords: GSM, GPS, Tracking System, GSM antenna, Communication


During last few years the rate of car snatching, theft, and asset theft in many countries have increased at a higher rate. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) recently investigated that a vehicle is stolen in every 40 seconds in United States. In 2009 the South was at the top with the theft rate 37.8 percent, followed by the West, 34.2 percent. The Midwest accounted for 18.0 percent of thefts and the Northeast for 10.0 percent [1] .Due to which the importance of vehicle security cannot be ignored. A large number of tracking systems had so far been introduced with a wide range of tracking services. But the maintenance and operation cost of most of systems is very high which prevents it from widespread use.

The objective of this research is to condense the cost of the tracking system and to make it more user friendly by using the hottest technologies Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) to making it accessible for the common People. The tracking system can be used for Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) [2]. For example, it can be used in probe cars to calculate real-time traffic data to recognize the congesting area. It can also be a life saver in case of an emergency such as snatching, accident, theft and to call emergency services quickly. In addition, it can be used to communicate with driver and for real time location of the vehicle. I have used NAVSTAR-GPS, a satellite based service that was developed by United States Department of Defence. Global Positioning System (GPS) provides accurate, three dimensional information of the location as well as accurate velocities and timing services. It is accessible to an unrestricted number of worldwide civilian, military, and commercial users [3]. The service is free of cost to everybody. Google Map is used for mapping the location. Communication between tracking unit and server carried out by a text message which is provided by GSM operators.


GPS Technology

Global Positioning System (GPS) is a system which contains a network of 24 satellites of the United States, which are at first used in military, and afterwards allowed for business-related use. The satellites periodically emit radio signal of short pulses to GPS receivers. GPS receiver receives the signal from at least three satellites to calculate distance and uses a triangulation technique to compute its two-dimension (latitude and longitude) position or at least four satellites to compute its three-dimension (latitude, longitude, and altitude) position. Once a location is computed, it can calculate an average speed and direction of travelling.

GSM Technology

Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is the world's most popular standard for mobile telephone systems. Users can get advantage the roaming and switch carriers without changing phones. Short Message Service (SMS) is the hottest functioning of GSM. SMS is the text communication between web and mobiles using standard communication protocols. It is a data application which is most widely using customers with 2.4 billion active users [4].

System Overview

The system consists of two parts - the tracking device and the database server, as shown in Figure 1. The device is attached with the moving vehicle and gets the position from GPS satellite in real-time. The position then sends with the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number as its own identity to the server. The data is checked for validity and the valid data is stored into the database. Whenever user wants to track the device, s/he needs to logs into the service provider's website and gets the live position of the device on Google Map. Now a day, with advanced technology a user can get see the location of his vehicle on mobile phone. Firstly user's maximum three mobile numbers are stored in data base, user send designed commands to tracker and tracker reply back the updated location to server which includes latitudes and longitudes , server checks in Maps where this lat./long. Belongs and then send location to users mobile.

User can also communicate with the driver of the vehicle. For this an extra microphone and speaker needs to attach with the tracker. Driver can easily communicate. A custom statement is also generated which includes a comprehensive explanation of the vehicles status. Users can also see the previous history positions of the device.

Similarly, there are some mood options in the tracker such as, security, armed, garage, etc. If car in armed mode and somebody tried to open the door the alarm siren will sound for 30 seconds. Then tracker will send a message with updated positions of the vehicle to the Control Base. The Control Base software will then locate the street name and closest point from a map server and send these details through SMS to authorized Contact person with the text (example):

"John's car X928 CNN is at M62, near intersection Rochdale Rd.; GPS Car Alarm: Door Open"

To use SMS command to lock the vehicle doors, type and send this command to the Vehicle Unit:

$DOR,1 􀃎 Enter Vehicle Unit Number 􀃎 Send

If the car has been moved in armed status (for example, in case of tow-away), the following car alarm features will come into effect. The alarm siren will sound for 30 seconds. Tracker will send an alarm message with reorganized GPS positions to the Control Base. The Control Base will locate the street name and closest point from a map server and send these details through SMS to contact persons, with the text (example):

"John's car X928 CNN is at M62, near intersection Rochdale Rd.; GPS Car Alarm: Vehicle Moving"

If the tracker unit has been removed from the main battery power source or the car battery gets too low, The Vehicle Unit will send an alarm message with GPS position to the Control Base. The Control Base will find the street name and nearest intersection from a map server and send these details through SMS to user, with the text:

"John's car X928 CNN is at M62, near intersection Rochdale Rd.; GPS Car Alarm: Main Power Cut"

If user and server both will not replied with the proper security command, tracker will wait for 2 minutes and after that will shutdown the engine, battery, ignition and doors of vehicle.

User can also set the time interval for the update location on the server e.g. 120 seconds and after every 120 seconds a tracker will send the message which includes updated location. In the same way, user can get the location as well as speed of vehicle anytime he wants which shows the message:

"John's car X928 CNN is on M62 with speed of 72 miles/hour. Nearest point is Rochdale"

The tracker includes special safety features that can save your life in case of accidents, hijacking or emergency cases which called SOS Emergency Call.SOS push button can be installed at a secrete place within reach of the driver. Pressing this button will send an alarm message and GPS coordinates to the Control Base. The Control Base will find the street name and closest point from a map server and send these details through SMS to all Contact numbers, with the text:

"John's car X928 CNN is at M62, near intersection Rochdale Rd.; GPS Car Alarm: SOS!"

The tracker automatically dials a phone call to the user's contact number. If applicable, the SOS phone call can be used as "silent call" to allow users or operators to monitor events and sounds in the vehicle. Users in the car can hang up the automatic SOS phone call by pressing the SOS button again. After placing the SOS phone call, the vehicle unit will automatically start tracking and update GPS positions to the Control Base every 60 seconds over a period of 30 minutes.

Customer are able to setup and organize monitoring actions and alerts to the Vehicle Unit, using Control Base software or Tracking Web services via Internet Explorer or mobile on GPRS enabled cell phones. If the Vehicle Unit has been configured with a set of restricted

Geographic areas (Geo-Fences), Geo-Fence violation occurs and tracker will send an alarm message and GPS coordinates to the Control Base. The Control Base will find the street name and closest intersection from a map server and send these details through SMS to owner, with the text:

"John's car is at M62, nearest intersection Rochdale; GPS Car Alarm: GEO Fence Alert"


A module is required compatible with 850MHZ /900MHz/1800MHz/190OMhz frequencies of cellular networks. Super guard SG-VT02 QB is the module we have selected for this system shown in Fig 3. This device is able to work in any GSM network around the world. For this no external controller is required. It has a 20 channel high sensitive GPS receiver and built-in SIM card port which make the system compact and power efficient. To make a complete working and excellent system using this SuperguardSG-VT02 QB module, only the power source and the antennas are required. It also supports total standard AT command set plus custom AT command set for GPS.

Figure 4 shows the work flow of the hardware. After switching on the device, it automatically initializes the network and gets the GPS data in NMEA 0183 format and adds it with its Own unique IMEI number [6],[7]. Then it searches to connect with GPRS. If it cannot succeeded due to GPRS unavailability then it logs the data in the non-volatile memory and waits for a already fixed time period. Then it tries to connect to the GPRS again. After establishing the GPRS, it tries to connect to the service provider's web server using the HTTP protocol. At successful connection, the GPS data with IMEI number is sent to the server as a string. Then after a decided time interval it search's the availability of GPRS and connects to the HTTP server. The current location of the device is sent. In this described way the tracker communicates with the server and sends the location.


To observe the current position of the vehicle a web-based application has been developed. To develop this software PHP5, JavaScript and Ajax scripting language was used. Due to high-performance query engine, enormously fast data insert capability, and strong support for specialized web functions like fast full text searches [8] My SQL database server is used for storing data. A case study shows that it could process an average of 3000 queries per second [9].Text message from tracker unit consists of IMEI number of the device, Latitude, Longitude, UTC, Date, Speed and number of satellite. IMEI number is used to authenticate the device.

Fig. 5 shows the server side flow diagram.

Fig. 5 Software Flow Diagram


The Spherical law of cosines is used to calculate the the device's location. This formula is used generally for computing great-circle distances between two pairs of coordinates on a sphere. Spherical law of cosines states that [10]:


Here, d is the distance between two coordinates (lat1,lng2) and (lat2, lng2).


Live tracking is the major part of this web application. This enables a user to view the live position of the device on the map. Google Map Satellite version is used to locate the position.

After Logging in, a user will automatically be redirected to live_track.php page. In this page AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) function is used to fetch the new position from the server. This is done at fixed intervals in order to update it on the map without reloading the whole page repeatedly. The Fig. 5 shows the how AJAX works between user and server side.

Ajax is asynchronous, in that extra data is requested from the server and loaded in the background without interfering with the display and behaviour of the existing page. Data is retrieved using the XMLHttpRequest object that is available to scripting languages running in modern browsers, or, alternatively, through the use of Remote Scripting in browsers that do not support XMLHttpRequest [11].

Fig. 6 Live Tracking Control Diagram


User can check the history of tracking after logging into the system. The 'history.php' page will allow viewing the past positions of the device by selecting a fixed date and time interval.

Fig. 7 Snapshot of the webpage which shows the live position of the tracking device by using Google map

In the database, the positional information along with current date and time is stored. This information is used to search for the location of the device using the specified date and time.

Fig. 8 Snapshot of the webpage which shows the history (previous recorded positions) of the tracking system. Bubble indicates the position and time of tracking device.


Many good efforts have been taken to reduce the total cost of the system. The device cost is reduced by using a single module solution. By using free Google map API and HTTP protocol the service cost has been overcome dramatically. Starting from small business to large enterprise, the device and service cost can be inexpensive.

In most countries same techniques are in use only by replacing GPRS with GSM. The cost of GPRS is less expensive than SMS by a factor of 20 to 100. (SMS costs about 0.5-1.0 Taka/SMS whereas GPRS costs about 0.02 Taka/KB [12]. To reduce the total system cost, a single GSM/GPRS/GPS module was used instead of separate devices. Beside the cost, this approach saves extra PCB space of the system. It is integrated with high level python language interpreter. This makes it easy to program, update and optimize the system and additionally save the external controller. Moreover, it saves development time and cost compared to programming and interfacing external controller.


This paper presents an affordable cost tracking system using GPS and GSM network, suitable for wide range of applications all over the world. The combination of the GPS and GSM provides continuous and real time tracking.


I would like to show my gratitude to Prof. R.E. Sheriff, who guided me in the right way and provided me with the necessary basic skills to write a standard Research Paper.


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