Tech giant Apple wowed motoring enthusiasts at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show last week with the release of CarPlay, an iPhone-style interface that let drivers make calls, listen to music and show movies to passengers.
But an Apple-ified Ferrari may be no match in the tech stakes for a concept commercial mini-van that comes with “drone surveillance”. Alcatel Lucent’s Connected Service Vehicle (CSV) has a swag of technologies from networking, telecommunications and cloud software companies and “offers a full suite of cloud-based services that deliver office productivity to vehicle-based workers,” a brochure claimed.
The vehicle’s operating system was linked to a tablet optimised for voice control. A driver could securely log into applications through speech recognition software and could dictate and listen to “voice emails”, according to documents about the “connected fleet” prototype.
The CSV used could stream high-definition surveillance footage from drones through the Velocix CDN network, conduct video conferences with Vidyo and was capable of photo recognition. Other technologies incorporated into the vehicle included geolocation, high-speed mobile broadband standard LTE, and “a white label app store”.
The Apptricity Mobile app gave technicians turn-by-turn driving instructions to the next job and listed all work orders for the day. Technicians in the field could call nearby technicians to provide support through the car’s tablet or send an instant message or email to the next customer with their estimated time of arrival.
Inventory stored in the vehicle and tagged with radio frequency ID (RFID) chips were automatically deducted from the mini-van’s inventory, shown on the tablet, when they were removed from the vehicle.
A partner in the project, Ivox, recorded vehicle data to predict risks for driving behaviours and calculated insurance costs for fleet managers.
The CSV was designed as a fleet vehicle for companies to more efficiently dispatch and interact with a team of field technicians. Targeted industries included telcos, utilities, emergency services, pest control and delivery companies.
CSVs could be managed from the Fleet Manager operations interface which recorded real-time information provided by the fleet such as work order and inventory tracking, location, maintenance and diagnostic data. An operations manager could use the Fleet Manager program to direct the day-to-day operation of the fleet.