ŠKODA produces not only modern cars, but also hi-tech online services that can make life remarkably easier.
13. 3. 2018
ŠKODA VISION X is not just about fashion design, an innovative drive concept and nifty electric skateboards. Completely new online services have been installed onboard that can make living life and getting around town a lot easier. They have been developed by ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab, ŠKODA’s truly digital laboratory, where today’s challenges are resolved with visionary modern technologies. Welcome to the future!
“ŠKODA is living the digital future today. Many of the innovative mobility concepts showcased by the carmaker in Geneva are already a reality,” explains Andre Wehner, ŠKODA AUTO’s Chief Digital Officer. “ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab projects are clear proof of how ŠKODA is evolving, or transforming, from a car manufacturer into a provider of comprehensive mobility services.”
Jarmila Plachá, the head of ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab, adds: “Our innovation centre is working on new, advanced solutions to make our individual mobility even more convenient and even simpler. In Geneva, visitors to the motor show can see for themselves how ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab’s innovations make everyday life easier for our customers.”
A perfect example is HoppyGo, one of the largest carsharing platforms in the Czech Republic. With this app, people rent cars to people – anyone who wants to turn their car into a money-making machine while they are not using it can offer it to others for hire. Borrowers can book cars and lenders can charge trips with the app. Cars are also insured over any loan periods. The HoppyGo platform is growing by more than 250 active users and 30 new cars every month – more than 400 vehicles are currently available for hire.
In Germany, there is a unique assistance service called CareDriver. Screened and trained driver-cum-carers (called CareProfs) use a fleet of ŠKODA OCTAVIAs not only to lay on transport, but also to provide assistance. If, say, an elderly person has a doctor’s appointment, the CareProf will collect them at their front door, accompany them into the surgery waiting room, wait for them, and then take them back home. Older people can even use this service if they fancy a walk in the park or need to get to an event at their senior centre.
Other frequent clients are preschool children – the CareDriver service is booked by parents who, realising they are too busy, need someone to pick up their kids from school or take them to one of their clubs. CareDriver, then, is not just a taxi service, but a real helping hand. Mainly, though, it’s about trust between people – with CareDriver, the elderly have a driver they can rely on, while parents can rest assured that their children are safe.
Another two projects are still at the test stage, but the results are promising and they continue to evolve. Ride Share is a project designed for all those who are going the same way but would not otherwise know about each other. The app not only accepts offers and requests for a ride, but can also calculate the optimal route, convey the latest traffic news, and find the best solution for the trip. We started piloting Ride Share last year for ŠKODA employees to make getting to work smoother and easier for them.
Another promising project is Smart Parking, an app that surpasses anything existing systems can offer. This system will help drivers to find a genuinely free parking space – it uses a unique predictive algorithm that can search for parking spaces that are not yet vacant but will be by the time the driver gets there. It will also be capable of checking whether the driver is authorised to park in the space and will see to the parking charges.
Some of these innovations are incorporated directly into the VISION X concept, but visitors to the Geneva Motor Show can also explore them and try them out in the “innovation tunnel” at the ŠKODA stand, where they will also learn about VISION X and other modern ŠKODA technologies. At the end of the tunnel is the light of the future, which is a joy to step into.
Another kettle of fish entirely is the development of CAR-TO-X functionality, i.e. the integration of intelligent cooperative transport systems, so that vehicles, infrastructure and drivers can communicate with each other. This will result in better road safety, smoother traffic flow and greater driving comfort, helping drivers to make the right decisions and adapt their driving to the current traffic situation. The ŠKODA Connect CAR-TO-X project is of critical importance to the safety of future autonomous vehicles.
Why is ŠKODA, a traditional car brand, focusing so intensely on digitalisation?
Digitalisation is one of the core points of ŠKODA’s Strategy 2025. It covers all areas of the company – employee education and training, vehicle development using modern virtual reality and 3D technology, and car production according to the Industry 4.0 guiding principle. In the future, digitalisation will increasingly creep into ŠKODA’s traditional business sector of carmaking.
What is ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab and what role does it play?
ŠKODA is fortifying its innovative experience of digital development at its innovation centre in Prague, which is focusing on the next stage of mobility, connectivity and digitalisation. Creative teams are exploring and developing new business models in their innovation workshop. This includes integrating digital technologies more vigorously into ŠKODA’s current core activities and developing innovative interconnection and mobility services. The ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab now has 20 experts working on new mobility concepts, and we are on the look-out for further highly specialised IT experts and project managers.
What is ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab’s vision?
ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab aims to provide everyone with digital, interconnected, safer, greener and smarter cars, along with new mobility products and services that will be of particular value to our global customers. The vision is to find new global mobility solutions and to develop and test innovative ideas, no matter what country they come from. ŠKODA’s goal is to expand its scope of business and make the leap from a traditional car manufacturer to a mobility service provider. ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab’s mission is to create and develop these services and functions. Our strategy is based on partnerships with technology companies (start-ups) and accelerators; nor are we averse to corporations, research outfits and innovation centres. As we want to be at the birth of innovations that can greatly enrich the automotive industry, wherever that may be, we are also setting up ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab in Israel in cooperation with our importer, Champion Motors.