A University of Michigan spinoff is getting ready to hit the market with software and systems to track municipal and private fleets.
Shepherd Intelligent Systems, now based in a downtown Ann Arbor UM business incubator, provides real time GPS-based data to accurately predict arrival times for transportation companies.
The system is now in use for the University of Michigan's bus system. There are also trials under way for the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and for the snow plows of a municipality that is still confidential.
The software can be used to predict the arrival time of buses at specific bus stops -- information that riders will eventually be able to access through PC or smartphone.
According to co-founder and CEO Adrian Fortino, the system uses historical traffic patterns, outdoor temperature and precipitation and the buses' passenger loads to make its predictions. "All that goes into these algorithms that predict what the time of arrival is," Fortino said.
The system also provides fleet management information, so bus and truck system administrators can communicate with drivers, track the condition and speed of vehicles, and measure everything from driver performance to fuel efficiency to congestion avoidance. It also flags vehicles for maintenance based on their information.
Besides passenger buses, Fortino is also pitching the system for management of municpal vehicles like snowplows and garbage trucks, and for non-municipal fleet operators like taxi and limousine companies.
Fortino is an Alma native with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from UM. He spent 10 years in engineering at Ricardo Inc., the Van Buren Township-based power train consulting firm, and quit in 2008 to start an Internet advertising company. That company struggled in the recession, and he learned of the opportunity at Shepherd through friends in the Ann Arbor venture capital community. He's currently studying for an MBA at UM.
Fortino said his company is expanding its sales efforts with Great Lakes-area bus systems, municipalities, and companies that run shuttles and taxis.
The company has four employees now, but Fortino said "we will be looking to hire in the next three months, so we're just starting to talk to people." He'll be in the market for software engineers and sales and marketing staff.
More at www.shepherdintelligentsystems.com.
To view an interactive realtime map of the UM bus system, visit this link. University of Michigan and AATA buses are both on the map.