How a Vehicle Tracker Works


Have you ever wondered how vehicle tracking works? Here we provide a brief explanation including what makes ScorpionTrack technology so effective in fleet management, telematics and stolen vehicle tracking.

The position of a vehicle tracking device is determined by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) satellites (2) sending data packets received by the tracking device (1) installed in the vehicle.

The lag or difference between the data packet arrivals are used to determine the position of the vehicle. The more GNSS satellites sending packets of information, the more accurate information can be obtained. This is also affected by how far spread the satellites are in the sky. In order to obtain precise location information the tracking device should receive a signal from at least 4 different GPS satellites.

Scorpion Automotive’s latest generation ScorpionTrack STX devices utilise the GNSS satellite constellations of:

  • GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) - the United States navigation system that utilizes 24 satellites positioned in six orbital planes with 4 operational and a spare in each plane.
  • GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema) - Russia’s version of GPS. Like GPS, GLONASS uses 24 operational satellites but positioned in 3 orbital planes with 8 satellites per plane.
  • Galileo is the European satellite system and at the time of writing offers 24 satellites (plus 2 spares) with the aim of 9 active satellites operating plus spares. A planned 30 active satellites will be placed in orbit. The system already offers both horizontal and vertical positioning accurate to within one meter.
  • BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is the Chinese satellite navigation system. BDS is not configured as standard, but ScorpionTrack units are readily capable for BDS adaptation to support customers operating in China and neighbouring regions.

The ScorpionTrack vehicle tracking units utilise sophisticated composite GNSS receivers capable of simultaneously receiving data from each of the above satellite constellations  and processing it to deliver improved accuracy and coverage particularly in built up areas.

Analysing the data received from the satellites, the tracking device is able to determine the position, speed, altitude, acceleration rate and deceleration rate of the vehicle. In the case of ScorpionTrack systems, they also provide a variety of reporting functions for fleet management applications and theft early warning alerts including low vehicle battery, tilt, tracker tamper and tow-away alarms.

All this data is transmitted via the GSM network (3) to Scorpion’s secure servers (4).  To ensure the ultimate reliability, ScorpionTrack tracking devices utilise a multi-network GSM modem, automatically switching to the GSM network with the greatest signal strength as the vehicle continues on its journey.

Our servers encrypt and upload this information securely to a Cloud-Based system at which point, the information is available on demand to both the customer (5) via their PC, tablet or mobile phone. It is also transmitted to Scorpion’s 24/7 Control Room Centre (6). For customers subscribing to our insurance approved theft monitoring service, if an alarm is triggered, our monitoring team will contact the vehicle owner. In the event of a confirmed vehicle theft, the team will co-ordinate with local police forces to track and recover the vehicle. Our recovery rate of stolen vehicles fitted with our tracking devices is currently 96%.

We hope you found this article useful. If you’d like further information about ScorpionTrack Fleet or Stolen Vehicle Tracking systems, please feel free to get in contact and we will be happy to help you.


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