Smart mobility is a term that is widely used these days. I just got a first taste of a really smart and connected product when we piloted the Ather 450. A lot of positive things came out of this machine, but the only thing that I haven’t been able to get over is the “smart” aspect of things.
Love of data
To give you a brief introduction, the Ather 340 and 450 scooters come with a number of data farming sensors, including a gyroscope, GPS, and even a six-axis IMU, which is the same technology that enables a advanced traction control and cornering ABS. works in high end motorcycles. At the moment, the IMU helps the Ather’s self-canceling indicators, but the scooter does not have traction control or ABS – standard or cornering. However, I imagine that it will not be the most difficult thing for the company to integrate this kind of technology in its future products.
But I digress, because, in addition to these sensors, the Ather’s also have a full-time GSM connection which is paid for as part of a monthly subscription. This not only allows the scooter to receive live updates from the company, but also allows the scooter to relay large amounts of data to Ather.
I know where you went last summer … and all the other times!
What kind of data are we talking about? Well our ride through Bengaluru town ended at the AtherSpace showroom / experience center. Here, officials were able to show me the exact route I had taken to get there. Several lines of scribbles along the same stretch of road reminded me that this was where we took some passing photos for the video review. Indeed, Ather knew exactly where I was, when I was there and how many times I passed on the same stretch of road. But wait, there is more.
The next datasheet shown to me was an unusual circular structure with hundreds of lines in all directions, some longer than others. This, I discovered, was a detailed map of my driving style. Each line facing up was representative of each time and how much I opened the throttle. The descending lines represented each pressure on the brakes, with the length of the line indicating how far the levers were pulled. And finally, the lines on the left and right indicated how much I had leaned the scooter to either side.
To put it simply, Ather knew all about the way I drove their scooter that day.
That makes you think, doesn’t it? Ather says he’s not really interested in your personal data and only uses it to monitor the health of each scooter and to develop future updates more effectively. None of this data is accessible from the scooter and can only be viewed on the AtherSpace installation. But that shouldn’t come as a shock, as most of us already (and quite willingly) share silly amounts of our information with Google, Apple, and Facebook, to name a few.
Those of you who, like me, feel reluctant about minimal privacy can opt out through an Incognito mode. However, you have to remember to do this every day, as the mode resets every 24 hours. Fortunately, Ather is ready to make it a unique thing and can easily do so through a simple update.
And that’s where the fun of this system comes in. Ather can actually keep updating your scooter with the OTA updates on time. It can range from simple bug fixes to much more complex processes. For example, if the company finds a way to tweak their battery management system in such a way as to improve the performance and / or efficiency of existing hardware, they could simply broadcast this update to all scooters on the road. . If he chooses to do so, there is no reason why your existing scooter should not become even more advanced over time.
Likewise, the electric transmission requires very little maintenance, and for the few consumables like brake pads, belts, etc., the scooter may be able to tell you when a replacement is due, rather than waiting for a predetermined deadline.
The same goes for operating costs. Ather’s Rs 700 monthly subscription package not only covers all normal service costs, but will include all costs incurred while charging the scooter. So, while charging on AtherGrid (the company’s public fast-charging network) will be free for subscribers, the company will also reimburse you for the costs incurred for charging from a private power connection. How does this work? The scooter is smart enough to know where it is charged and how much electricity it has consumed. It passes this information to Ather, and the company will refund the money to you through an electronic wallet. Astonishing!
This is just the beginning
You might call me technophobic (and I most certainly am), but that’s where we’re headed. As with all of our gadgets, more and more vehicles will become smart and connected. True privacy will eventually turn into a fable that will make future generations scream in disbelief.
While this Black Mirror lifestyle is thankfully still a long way off, there are already a few implications to consider at this point. The one that comes to my mind is that this type of technology is an insurer’s wildest dream. Even at the current technological level, it would be almost too easy to identify the location of an accident, the speed of the impact and even the evasive maneuvers attempted. I won’t be surprised to see future insurance policies rewarding those who agree to share this information with lower premiums, if not outright insisting.
This is just one example and I’m sure there are much more conceivable scenarios, where in some areas this type of technology is good, and in others not so much. In the end, the only thing that will truly protect customer privacy is a well-thought-out set of government regulations. Until then, savor the simple joys of your “mute” automobile.