© Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering
MWC Barcelona is delighting attendees with many great exciting announcements in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) space.
Headquartered in Martorell, Barcelona, SEAT is a member of the Volkswagen Group and one of Europe’s biggest car manufacturers. Along with IBM, SEAT announced today the development of a new solution designed to transform driving in smart cities. SEAT is the only company that designs, develops, manufactures, and markets automobiles in Spain.
Recently at MWC Barcelona, SEAT also presented its concept car Minimó promising to revolutionize urban mobility. Using IBM Watson AI, Mobility Advisor can help urban citizens make more informed decisions about their daily transportation options including cars, scooters, bikes, and public transport.
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“Traffic congestion and environmental challenges are putting huge pressure on cities to transform,” said Jordi Caus, SEAT’s Head of New Urban Mobility Concepts. “At SEAT we are leading the way by working with innovative cities and technology companies to come up with solutions to make mobility easier and more efficient.
Urban mobility on 5G networks
Through its advanced cloud and AI technologies, IBM is helping SEAT to dive into innovative approaches to mobility. "This will transform our business strategy while improving the lives of people living in urban areas,” said Jordi Caus.
According to the company, Mobility Advisor, which is currently under development, has been designed to run as a mobile application on 4G and 5G networks. It uses IBM Watson Assistant to provide users with a conversational interface to plan and optimize routes and suggest the most suitable transportation options.
Mobility Advisor uses IBM Watson Machine Learning to learn a user’s preferences which the application takes into account in order to make more personalized recommendations in what is the best way to complete a journey.
Mobility Advisor is connected to the IBM Cloud and dynamically adapts to changing conditions. This is possible by taking into account updated weather forecasts, traffic reports, and whatever other things are happening in the city that day, things such as a marathon from which the user doesn't have knowledge about.
Thanks to Mobility Advisor, the user can know the streets that will be closed on that particular day due to the marathon and take a different route suggested by the Mobility Advisor. The user can also be alerted about pedestrians or bicycles in the area avoiding accidents and making the streets safer.
Urban mobility improves with historical data and machine learning
Mobility Advisor also incorporates the user’s appointments and historical data about previous choices in order to suggest the best modes of transportation each time. Sometimes this could even mean leaving the car behind, walking, or using one of SEAT’s e-Kick scooters for a part of the journey.
“With the roll-out of 5G networks in cities in the coming years, the possibilities for transforming the driver experience are limitless,” said Juan Ramon Gutierrez Villar, Industry Solutions Leader, IBM Global Markets.
“At IBM, we are working with telecommunications companies and innovative manufacturers like SEAT to provide the open technologies which they need to deliver on this vision and create highly contextualized and personalized user experiences that work at lightning speed across multiple clouds and IT platforms,” he said.
The company said that SEAT’s R&D Mobility team will continue working with IBM technicians on the evolution of Mobility Advisor proof of concept and its different potential and future applications.
Together with XMOBA, SEAT’s independent company which tests new solutions that contribute to better mobility, SEAT will analyze the future integration of Mobility Advisor with Justmoove, the collaborative mobility solutions platform which the company already offers to its customers.
On IBM’s side, the project is being implemented by Viewnext, an IBM subsidiary in Spain.
Micromobility for urban areas
Through Mobily Assistant a user can choose to travel to a destination by a combination of means of transport. This could include a section of the journey by car, then by train, and finally using a scooter. This last section of the journey is described as micromobility.
Micromobility allows users to travel short distances, usually the first or last mile of a journey, in an environmentally friendly and quick way. This is done thanks to small and electric vehicles. Scooters and bikes are lightweight and can help reduce carbon footprints and improve mobility flows in urban areas.
This is becoming crucial in overpopulated cities. Over 65 percent of the population is expected to live in cities by 2040. The McKinsey Center for Future Mobility found that about 60 percent of car trips worldwide are less than 8 kilometers and these could benefit from micromobility solutions.
SEAT introduced the electric eXS KickScooter power by SEGWAY at MWC Barcelona. This urban mobility solution adds to the company's mobility platform.
Manufacturing smart urban mobility for the cities of the future
SEAT currently is exporting 80 percent of its vehicles and has a presence in over 80 countries on all five continents. In 2018, SEAT sold 517,600 cars, the highest amount in the brand's 68 years of history.
The SEAT Group employs more than 15,000 professionals and has three production centers in Spain located in Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat, and Martorell, where the company manufactures the highly successful Ibiza, Arona, and Leon.
Additionally, the company produces the Ateca and the Toledo in the Czech Republic, the Tarraco in Germany, the Alhambra in Portugal, and the Mii in Slovakia.
The multinational has a Technical Center, which operates as a knowledge hub that brings together 1,000 engineers who are focused on developing innovation for Spain's largest industrial investor in Research and Development.
SEAT already features the latest connectivity technology in its vehicle range and is currently engaged in the company's global digitalization process to promote the mobility of the cities of the future.