A Grenoble, France-based company has unveiled a new fleet tracking system that installs chips in trailers and then tracks them using a special radio network. Eliot SA has put together a fleet management system that uses an iChip in a mobile data collection terminal, which is then installed on tractor-trailers. The system uses Internet protocol (IP) technology to provide trucking companies with real-time online tracking via what's called a General Packet Radio Service network (GPRS). The iChip is designed to funnel tracking information over a wireless radio connection and onto the Internet, where fleet operations personnel can tap into it. This technology is designed to take full advantage of what chip maker ConnectOne calls the higher speed, lower cost and immediate access of GPRS connectivity.

However, the suggested pricing for iChip is $20 for over 10,000 units, which may prove too pricey for the U.S. market. Such tracking services are part of the growing market in telematics wireless delivery of voice and data automotive services to vehicles. Forrester Research, a consulting firm, predicts that telematics will become a $20-billion industry worldwide by 2006.