Continental Takes Next Step in Commercial Vehicle Tolling


An innovative On-Board Equipment (OBE) solution shall replace the windscreen On-Board Units (OBUs) currently in place for EU-wide tolling. Continental has outlined in a white paper how its OBE solution improves data quality, reduces costs and gives better updatability for customers.

Vehicle Tolling Next Major Continental Project

Continental is preparing a lunge forward into the future of commercial vehicle tolling. To date, the OBU works behind the truck windscreen communicating with toll barriers, roadside toll stations and backends, in the European countries that have passed conformity testing for the OBU. Europe has suffered from a scattered approach to tolling, with many countries struggling to get an OBU approved, creating a logistical headache. Utilising one “box” per function is currently approaching its end in factory-installed systems. Increasingly, software and a new electronic and electric architecture  is beginning to replace the network of many dedicated hardware units. Continental’s solution consists of distributed function units – many of which already exist in the truck anyway.

The distributed On-Board Equipment (OBE) solution is a more efficient approach than isolated hardware. Among the advantages is a higher accuracy in toll collection as some typical OBU issues are solved. Updateable software controls the complete toll collection through the OBE system components and ensures only complete, correct data is transmitted to the proxy. In addition, a complete set of software functions and security tests protects the distributed system from manipulations and unauthorised access.

Tolling Made Easy

The advantages of an OBE solution are simple. It’s a future-safe and expendable solution for networks across Europe, with increased quality and simpler logistics. This element adds value to the customer, who will see reduced costs and increased security on the road. Perhaps most importantly, the OBE is ready for the EU Mobility Package.

“Smooth and precise tolling procedures are essential for professional road users and fleet managers, for instance, to avoid becoming an unintended toll offender. The distributed On-Board Equipment will open up attractive opportunities for the whole tolling industry to network existing functional components to form a factory-installed, vehicle-specific, distributed and easily updateable On-Board Equipment solution”, says Ing. Andreas Müller, Head of Tolling & Connected Hardware at Continental's Commercial Vehicle Fleet Services business segment.

As an isolated piece of hardware, the OBU behind the windscreen brings some typical problems. Among those issues are loose connections, the risk of a mismatch between an OBU, the vehicle itself and older, updated OBU versions with reduced connectivity functions. However, the biggest OBU downside is the lengthy and costly conformity testing in each European country. “This can take ten months for one country alone”, says Andreas Müller. As a result, existing OBU hardware is used to the limit to avoid the heavy investment in the conformity testing of a new box generation, which is surprising, considering how essential data solutions are for this era.

Continental's concept for the tolling of the future addresses all data solutions issues. The contents of the previous “box” become factory-installed components. GNSS sensor data, e.g., can be delivered by the navigation system or the smart tachograph. The tachograph also contains a DSRC modem, which can in future be used for tolling as well. The user interface can be provided via the existing head unit which offers the benefit of providing a consistent user interaction concept.

For the data exchange to the proxy via mobile internet, customers can use solutions such as Bluetooth, GSM or LTE. Making the digital smart tachograph one of the main components of a distributed OBE solution greatly contributes to the security level and manipulation safety. It also improves the tolling data quality as it is fully connected to the vehicle architecture and information system.

Smooth Tolling Represents a Permanent Solution

The 2025 European Commission’s Mobility Package is understood to make it necessary to retrofit trucks used by fleet owners for international transport. The retrofit involves new smart tachographs that document compliance with the new rules. Continental’s new tolling concept is timed exactly to utilise this timeframe and add to the benefits of a distributed OBE. Making this happen requires EU-wide OBE conformity testing based on interface standardisation.

The “interoperability constituents” of an OBE solution (or its functional components) shall be tested against harmonised test standards. To reap the benefits of an OBE solution, applicable test standards need to be defined. “With all the changes coming, transport industry, tolling providers and the suppliers of the technical infrastructure have to come up with something better than just praying the old hardware will last yet another year”, says Müller, in what he and Continental hopes is a solution to an industry that has seen many take temporary solutions in lieu of something permanent. 

About the author

Adrian, located in Madrid, is joining the editorial team as a correspondent for the Valebridge Publications Ltd Group. Before starting in 2020 for Commercial Tyre Business, Adrian graduated with an English degree before working within marketing and recruitment in the non-profit sector. Recently he changed direction, undertaking a course in Marketing and International Business as a means towards moving into the journalism field, which he counts as his lifelong ambition.


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