While in Europe on a recent media tour, I took a few personal days to relax in Amsterdam (not like that!) and made one exception to my attempt at a vacation to stop by the offices of Transitions Now to get the lowdown on Maxem. Because the team there is just overflowing with entrepreneurial, cleantech-focused energy, they also took the opportunity to show off another project they’ve been developing for several years now, ViriCiti.
Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting much from this solution, but I was absolutely blown away by what it does today, what it will do soon, and what it has the potential to do as we look towards the more data-driven, autonomous future of mobility. Let’s jump in!
What is this ViriCiti business, you ask? In a nutshell here’s what they have to say for themselves: “ViriCiti offers a cloud-based monitoring system that allows electric buses and trucks to drive further, increase uptime and run more reliable at lower costs.” In reality, this is no simple feat, but one the ViriCiti team has tackled intelligently and cost effectively with an impressive lineup of pilot customers already using the solution in the wild.
This is accomplished by adding a fully integrated hardware module that’s compatible with almost all of the electric buses on the market today (like the electric buses from BYD, Proterra, and Optare) that taps directly into the existing Canbus adapter. The hardware modules are installed in the bus at the time of manufacture and can then extract real-time driving metrics, battery capacities, speeds, etc., that give the ViriCiti cloud-based solution the data it needs to get to work via an integrated dual-3G cellular connection.
Most electric buses use an industry-standard gauge cluster which allows ViriCiti to tap into that framework and enables manufacturers to display the more accurate ViriCiti-generated range ratings directly in the vehicle.
Armed with masses of raw data from the bus, ViriCiti can then extract deep insights into driving behavior, actual range per charge, driver safety habits, and even predictive maintenance on the bus. This results in more accurate “range per charge” numbers that allow fleet managers to truly maximize their assets and get 25% more miles per charge without having to worry about whether or not the bus will run out of power … because it’s backed by historical data.
ViriCiti also uses the input data to profile each driver in each ViriCiti-powered bus in order to determine who drives the most efficiently, literally tracking power used by each driver. If someone is accelerating harder off the stop sign, then braking harder at the next intersection, that’s more power used and more wear and tear on the bus — and ViriCiti can put a spotlight on that for fleet managers.
While the suite comes with its own set of dashboards and metrics, it’s easy to extrapolate how this data could be utilized in the workplace to support safe-driver programs and to encourage cost-effective driving as the basis for preventive maintenance programs, and even to reach bottom-line cost savings goals.
Beyond the more obvious high-level sets of metrics, the dashboard allows fleet managers to drill deep into the details for each bus, driver, and route — and pretty much parse the data any which way they see fit. The screenshot below shows an example of how this works, with several metrics being selected under a single bus, which are then translated into a single graph below, making the output easy to interpret at a glance.
ViriCiti is looking to build on its early successes with customers like Facebook and Stanford University with the help of a recent injection of capital from Mainport Innovation Fund II and Breesaap Green Link, which it plans to use to supercharge its expansion internationally and to ramp up in order to increase demand from customers in what is already a fast-growing market.
In parallel to the global expansion, the ViriCiti team is perpetually innovating and bringing new functionality to the already robust solution. Integrating internal learnings from the pilot installations in parallel to addressing feedback from customers has the team excited about the future of the solution with quite a backlog for future releases. The future is bright for ViriCiti, and for electric bus fleets around the world as a result.
Images Credit: ViriCiti
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