Microsoft has spoken at length about its plans to provide an autonomous car infrastructure, but it's made little mention of public transport. Though self-driving electric vehicles will undoubtedly change the world, busses could provide an even lower environmental impact.
e.Go Digital is looking to provide that solution in Germany, and Microsoft's Azure platform is powering it. The first prototype can transport up to fifteen people with on-demand pickups and drop-offs, navigating city traffic for up to ten hours. The e.Go Mover uses a cloud connection with Azure to power this safe and smart driving through urban environments.
Talking to Microsoft, e.Go Digital CEO Casimir Ortilieb spoke about the company's short-term plans.
“We're planning to showcase it in three cities: Aachen, in western Germany, where we manufacture the bus; Munich, because we think that will be a nice place to show what the Mover can do; and Friedrichshafen, in southern Germany, home to one of our main partners, ZF, a systems supplier,” said Ortlieb.
The e.GO Mover will make its first debut in 2019, but the company has grand plans to completely phase out traffic in inner cities. With a shared system of on-demand electric transport, Ortlieb believes his company can greatly reduce CO2 emissions and pollution, as well as increasing public safety.
First, though, significant training is required for the AI algorithms that power the system. However, once perfected, it could be used for anything from transportation to a cloud-connected food cart. In the future, Azure may also be able to help with monetization.
“e.GO Digital is building different digital business models around the Mover. For example, imagine that advertisements of local businesses can be displayed on the bus. We need a platform to manage that,” said Ortlieb.
“So yes, other players could finance mobility. Maybe it's financed by local shops that display their advertisements on the windows of buses in augmented reality. We think that with that technology, mobility could be far more affordable or even free of charge.”