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Intelligently en Route with the Cloud

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From fleet management to ride sharing: ZF is developing a cloud platform for innovative mobility services.
Christine Kordt, February 09, 2018
Christine Kordt All aspects of mobility have been at the heart of this journalist from Cologne for over 20 years. Outside of work, her favorite way to explore the landscape around her is on foot.
Imagine it’s summertime and everyone wants to go to a big rock concert at the Berlin Waldbühne, a large outdoor amphitheater near the Olympic Stadium. On Twitter, Instagram and the like, the posts with the relevant hashtag are coming thick and fast. How do you best get to Olympic Park? With an electric bike maybe? But at the surrounding bike stations, all rental bikes are already rented out.

This can be handled in a more intelligent manner: for example, using the cloud platform for mobility services which ZF presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas at the beginning of January. This Internet of Things (IoT) solution is based on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and makes it possible to integrate different functions across multiple vendors in a common intelligent platform – from fleet management to ride-sharing offerings through to innovative delivery services. ZF has developed initial application examples with start-ups and innovative mobility providers of its ecosystem such as door2door and Excelfore. ZF's in-house telematics platform OPENMATICS is also networked with the cloud. It can be used to manage not only conventional vehicle fleets but also wind farms or e-bike fleets, including the associated charging stations.
At the CES, ZF presented its cloud platform for intelligent mobility for the first time.

Openmatics has been working closely with Microsoft before and offered connectivity solutions in the Azure Cloud. This collaboration now has been expanded. For example, with the cloud platform based on Microsoft Azure OPENMATICS could collect and evaluate data from social networks and event calendars and thus predict the demand for bicycles – for example, at a major concert event at the Berlin Waldbühne. Even the weather forecast would be included in the calculation: More rain means less interest in the rock concert and thus less need for electrices bikes.

Three solutions for new mobility concepts based on the IoT platform:

  • Fleet management: ZF has networked its in-house telematics platform with the cloud. It can be used to manage not only conventional vehicle fleets but also wind farms or bike fleets, including the associated charging stations. Operators can track and evaluate the whereabouts and condition of their vehicles in real time. With intelligent analysis tools such as predictive maintenance, the wear of individual vehicle components can be monitored so that maintenance appointments can be scheduled at an early point in time and downtime costs can be minimized.
  • Mobility management: With the Berlin mobility start-up door2door, ZF has developed a ride-sharing app for passengers and goods, with which autonomous vehicle fleets can be used in urban areas for the first time. The fleets allow both passengers and goods to reach their destination in an optimal and resource-efficient manner. The app does even more for passengers: For example, riders who are in an unfamiliar city and are looking for an inexpensive pizzeria will get appropriate and customized suggestions with consideration of any online ratings and indication of the respective travel time. In doing so, the app communicates with the user directly by means of voice recognition. If a customer books a vehicle, he or she is identified by face recognition using a selfie.
  • Over-the-air updates: With the networking specialist Excelfore, ZF has integrated a system in the cloud which updates control units in fleet vehicles on a regular basis. The system also uses over-the-air updates to ensure that the fleet software is always up-to-date. In addition, the system works as a shield against threats from outside the vehicle. If it detects an intruder, it warns the fleet operator and provides an appropriate update to eliminate the vulnerability.
The cloud based on Microsoft Azure makes it possible: Networked and integrated solutions for new mobility concepts.

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