Amber, a Dutch self-driving startup, has stated that it would be the first in the world to deploy self-driving cars on a large scale.
Amber is a mobility provider. Just like Netflix gives you unlimited access to movies, and Spotify your favorite music at any given moment, Amber will give you unlimited access to on-demand, guaranteed mobility. Because Amber will make sure that a car is available where and whenever you need it, you won't have to worry about the hassle of car ownership any more. Amber began at the University of Eindhoven and will see the first rollout of self-driving cars in the city of Eindhoven.
To achieve their end goal of providing unlimited on-demand mobility, Amber plans to develop in a series of four stages:
Step 1: B2B Platform
The first step towards reaching the end goal is the Amber Mobility platform in a business to business environment, providing mobility for companies. Currently, every company has its own mobility policy, and they are all individually looking for a solution for their over-crowded parking lots, high costs and ensuing impact on the environment. The Amber Mobility platform offers these companies a subscription on mobility, fully customized for each company's needs. With this subscription, the company joins a so-called "Amber Mobility hub", where the employee gets access to a fleet of fully electric BMW i3s with the guarantee that a car will always be available within walking distance.
The Amber Mobility app uses an intelligent software system based on predictive analytics. The system incorporates historical and real-time data to predict where and when users will need cars. This means that overall, fewer cars are needed to service a group of employees.
Step 2: B2C Platform
After the first hub is established, new hubs can be created around other facilities of participating companies. As more companies get involved, more potential hubs can be created. As individual hubs grow private users join the Amber Mobility platform and help the hubs to grow even further. Mixing private and business users together in the platform means that Amber can improve the user-to-car ratio even more - more people will be able to use a single car.
Because Amber owns all the cars in the platform, the cars are not only shared between employees, but also between neighboring companies. These Amber Mobility hubs demand fewer cars, which results in less environmental impact and a lower cost per employee.
Step 3: Self-Driving Cars
While the hubs are growing and our service is expanding, a new logistical problem arises. Cars will need to be transferred between hubs or cities by human drivers, which obviously takes a lot of time and money. Step three will be self-driving vehicles. The self-driving vehicles Amber are developing will be used for the distribution of cars to where the users need them. They won't be used for driving people around, which means it's a much simpler use case, and a smaller barrier for implementation. With an SAE level 4 vehicle, Amber can already take care of the entire distribution of cars in the Amber Mobility platform. At first, they will only use them at night and on roads without much traffic growing towards a real-time balance between supply and demand. The first self-driving cars will already be operational in mid-2018, which means that Amber will be the first in the world to deploy self-driving cars on a large scale.
Step 4: Amber One
So far, the Amber Mobility platform is using BMW i3s, but Amber want to implement their own car. Amber's business model is to sell a service instead of a "product". Because Amber uses cars to provide a service instead of selling the cars, it's in their own interest to make sure that that the cars work, last a long time, and require as little maintenance as possible. So they are developing the Amber One, the first car specifically designed to be shared. With its lifespan of 1.5M km, its energy consumption of 12 km/kWh, and modular design with many interchangeable components, it's the ideal car for the platform. With this car, running costs or "costs of operation" of the car are extremely low, allowing them to also offer the service for just € 33 per week.
Source and top image: Amber
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Energy Independent Electric Vehicles 2017 on 27 - 28 Sep 2017 in TU Delft, Delft, Netherlands hosted by IDTechEx.