London’s classic taxis are getting an IQ bump. This month, the city revealed the new TX5 connected taxi: Hitting London streets at the end of 2017, the smart cab replaces the FX4 model first introduced in 1958.
Made of a lightweight aluminum composite, the cabs will ship with always-on cellular radios that can collect traffic and telemetry data about their performance on specific routes. That perpetual data analysis will help to develop digital models of the London streets and eventually to build more efficient routes. But first things first: Formula E, the world’s first global electric vehicle championship, will conduct its own computer modeling of London’s streets—as a speedway.
Racing technology has long trickled down to fleet vehicles, and in this case it makes particularly good sense. Both racecars and taxis need maximum vehicle uptime for the most efficient energy use and route optimization. With their growing populations and complex commercial ecosystem, it’s clear that mega-cities like London have much to gain from connected cars.
The promise of connected vehicles lies in advanced regression modeling: a computer-aided statistical process for making predictions about the real world, based on historical data.
“Before each event we run a lot of simulations,” says Patrick Coorey, Chief Race and Development Engineer at DS Virgin Racing. Using a rack of servers in the pit, team engineers drive virtual laps and predict the car’s real-life energy usage. “It’s a very detailed model of the racecar in terms of vehicle dynamics, energy, and everything like that,” he says.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise plays an instrumental role in this effort. “HPE helps us do more accurate simulations; analyzing everything that we’ve got in great detail,” Coorey explains. “The more that you can prepare for an upcoming race, the better off you’ll be.” With thorough simulations providing a clear competitive advantage, modeling ability is paramount.
Using similar quantitative approaches, city administrators are developing models that could pave the way for greener cities. Minimizing driving time for 17,000 fleet taxis in London would translate into massive emission cuts.
Connected cars can use data analytics to reduce power consumption, coordinate by GPS to adapt to changing road conditions, or use sensors to avoid accidents. Wireless connections and on-board computing also let operators predict wear-and-tear, which prevents breakdowns. As a result, people and goods get to their destinations with fewer accidents, fewer delays, and smaller insurance premiums.
While the new London cabs will be gasoline hybrids (not fully-electric), they’re still on the hook to improve London’s air quality by reducing energy consumption. Newly elected Mayor Sadiq Kahn announced in May that he would bring more stringent emissions rules to London, and cited air quality as one of his top policy priorities. To meet these standards, fleets will need the hyper-efficient data models being pioneered by the DS Virgin Racing team.
If these models are successful, they will help the DS Virgin Racing team zip around courses faster, and help Londoners navigate their city faster and more sustainably.
For more information on how HPE is powering DS Virgin Racing, click here.
This article was produced on behalf of Hewlett Packard Enterprise by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.