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Electrification and AI: What is in store for public service fleets?

by | Feb 9, 2023 | Blog

VNC Automotive

9th February 2023

The auto industry is seeing a lot of change when it comes to in-vehicle tech and connectivity, particularly when it comes to electrification and automation. And for public service fleets, this represents a major transformation in how public service vehicles can better serve their citizens and communities.

Recently, VNC Automotive CEO, Tom Blackie, talked to Roger Lanctot, an industry expert in connected mobility from Strategy Analytics, about technology in public service vehicles and the benefits, ergonomic, economic and safety, that lay ahead.

During this discussion, the topic of electrification and the technological benefits that would bring to public service vehicles prompted a good deal of interest from our speakers.

“Imagine a self-driving vehicle where a mobile mechanic can be using the 5G connections and the infrastructure to draw down information about the breakdown that they are currently travelling to while the vehicle is taking them there.” – Tom Blackie

Pure electric vehicles may need some advancement before they are accepted as full-fleet public service vehicles, mainly due to mileage range and charge times. But with many electric vehicles already on our highways, battery technology improving rapidly each year, and continuing advancements in automotive technology, EVs could provide considerable benefits to public service fleets in the future.

“We are entering a new era where there will be more information communicated from the vehicle.” – Roger Lanctot

Long-term, EVs can help to save money, and, vitally, keep highway agencies up to date with government and citizen mandates for greener technology.

“There are the environmental benefits, of course, but fundamentally, electric vehicles have huge potential. All the AI capabilities that these vehicles come with, will also deliver plenty of driver assistance.” – Tom Blackie

With electrification, AI, and 5G technology, public service fleets will have the means to get all the latest information in near real-time. And, importantly, that connectivity is bidirectional.

“There will be a huge amount of much more joined-up thinking, and with the help of AI, a lot of this could be done automatically.” – Tom Blackie

Not only would the traffic officer dealing with the situation at hand have access to vital information but control room operatives will be able to view this information back at base, meaning that the team can help to make decisions and offer additional help and support.

The connectivity doesn’t stop there. With more electric vehicles on the road, public service vehicle drivers are also able to access information about other vehicles in order to identify the correct tools and parts to complete a repair or offer assistance with highway traffic incidents.

But with technology advancing so quickly, how can public service fleets update their vehicles to keep up?

Some capabilities can be added by fitting aftermarket solutions to vehicles that already have all the other necessary features. VNC Automotive has a product called Cobalt Cube®, which can fulfil many of these requirements by integrating disparate mission-critical technologies within the in-vehicle infotainment system (IVI) and the dashboard.

With this integration in place, new technologies can be added and installed at any point for a flexible, extensible, and future-proof set-up.

In terms of installation, it is incredibly simple. A USB cable just needs to be plugged into the existing USB port that will be supplied in the OEM head unit. Therefore, installation is cheap and easy and, if vehicles are changed or updated, the Cobalt Cube can quickly be removed and transferred into the new vehicle without causing any damage to the vehicle.

“Perhaps one of the more interesting use cases is the ability to roll out new applications and new features using over-the-air updates without the need to then go and deploy new equipment in a car. I think that future-proofing of the vehicle is something that we’re going to see more and more of.” – Tom Blackie

When we asked Tom and Roger for one piece of advice that they would give to fleet managers, it was to keep an open mind when it comes to automotive technology and embrace the potential that it offers.

“I advise fleet managers and end users to open their minds to what’s actually possible and feel free to talk to technology companies like ours. I’m sure we can bring an awful lot of knowledge to help the critical jobs that they do.” – Tom Blackie

To get in touch with our team and find out more about how Cobalt Cube could be deployed in your public service fleets, click here.

VNC Automotive

9th February 2023