The Italian Renaissance revolutionized travel; people began to explore the world for the first time, Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas and maps started to become more accurate. It was also during this period that Leonardo da Vinci, who was born in the beautiful region of Tuscany, designed the world’s first self-propelled vehicle. Now, Italy is leading innovation in the transportation sector once again.
The scooter: an Italian icon
In collaboration with Ericsson, Piaggio is exploring the services that could be enabled when scooters are connected with a wider ecosystem. The brains behind the Vespa, Piaggio has played a significant role in Italian history. The company started out as a naval supplier and subsequently entered the railway and aeronautics sectors, before finally applying this extensive experience to the production of scooters. It was this origin in aeronautics that led to their most famous product having an iconic curved shape and being named 'Vespa', which translates as 'wasp'.
Italian heritage has always been at the heart of the brand. "Pontedera is where the Vespa was born and people associate strongly the location to the product," says Luca Sacchi, Head of Strategic Innovation at Piaggio. "I don't think this product could have been defined and designed in another country at that time."
The collaboration is the next big step in the brand's history, and aims to bring scooters into the connected future.
A fusion of expertise
The first of its kind for two wheelers, the project combines Ericsson's cloud expertise with Piaggio's in depth knowledge of the product. Through prototyping new solutions for the future, both companies hope to uncover new and exciting opportunities that benefit both the end user and the manufacturer.
Connected vehicles are big news in the automotive sector. Today's scooters can provide manufacturers with real-time information and send alerts when they need servicing. However, to increase these capabilities, there needs to be a super-fast connection between the scooter and the cloud.
5G is the optimal choice. With lower latency and higher bandwidth than 4G, it allows scooters to be connected with their environment like never before. And it is this, as well as the wider possibilities that 5G creates, that Ericsson and Piaggio are exploring.
The scooter of the future
In the future, connected scooters could warn their riders about up-coming dangers and communicate with other intelligent vehicles in real-time. These types of applications would significantly enhance safety and provide the user with an increased awareness of the roads around them.
Additionally, enhanced connectivity with the environment would allow a wealth of data to be fed back to the manufacturer, giving them a real-time picture of how the scooter is being used, common problems faced, where faults develop and more. This data could be utilized right at the start of the design process, during development and manufacturing, as well as for maintenance and repair. Here, it could provide accurate information about how to improve scooters to meet the expectations and daily requirements of the user. The result would be that scooters become part of a wider network, which could lead to new or improved services being created.
Connected scooters open up an array of exciting possibilities. And thanks to Ericsson and Piaggio, Italy's automotive sector will be racing ahead for many years to come.
Bringing two wheelers into the internet of vehicles
Intelligent transport systems are one of the most exciting and fast moving areas within the Internet of Things (IoT) space. From driverless cars to connected bus stops, a number of initiatives are already well underway – many of which have Ericsson at the helm – that will revolutionize the transportation sector as we know it.
However, whilst connectivity is a hot topic in the automotive world, the collaboration between Ericsson and Piaggio will be the first time that the possibilities surrounding connected two- and three-wheelers have been explored; a fact which is perhaps due to the distinct challenges posed by connecting these types of vehicle.
For example, two and three wheelers don't offer the information-rich dashboard enjoyed by car and truck drivers – making machine-to-person communication more difficult to successfully implement. Safety is also a key concern, as their drivers are arguably at greater risk. As a result, anything that can enhance awareness, or reduce the likelihood of an accident, is seen as adding significant value.
Through combining their knowledge of cloud infrastructure and the automotive industry, the partners hope to address these issues. For example, there is the potential for scooters to alert rescue teams immediately to an accident, or to offer real-time advice to drivers regarding possible dangers; both applications that could save lives.
Ultimately, the project aims to bring two wheelers into the internet of vehicles, and uncover innovative solutions that will enhance the lives of riders around the world.
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