“This first stage has been exhausting and exciting; we have met with over 100 companies, analysed 40 of them in depth, and ultimately we are going to implement proofs of concept in 8. We are studying with them how to adapt their technology to SEAT’s cars and systems so we can be able to implement real innovation” emphasised SEAT Vice-president for R&D Dr. Matthias Rabe. “The decision to take the leap in Tel Aviv with a new company is driven by strategic motives – we want to be known as a tech company that provides mobility rather than just a carmaker”, he concluded.
The action plan is now entering its second stage, where new “Xplorers” have been defined. Among these are two specialists - one in Digital Key and Cybersecurity in the area of electric and electronic development, and the other from the business development team of the newly created XMOBA, who will focus their attention on identifying new mobility solutions and enhanced user experiences in areas such as driver assistants, mobility as a service, solutions for electric vehicles, cybersecurity or Industry 4.0.
Making the move to Tel Aviv has taught us two valuable lessons. The first is related to being present in the country and the importance of getting a full grasp of the start-up ecosystem. “The collaboration with Champion Motors Ltd., our importer in Israel, has been crucial in this sense throughout the scouting process”, points out XMOBA executive director Arantxa Alonso.
The second has to do with detecting opportunities. According to Alonso, “improved hardware applications can add value to enhancing the driving experience, while new software solutions can be used to develop better mobility.”
From scouting to in-car proofs of concept
Key projects now entering in the proof of concept stage as potential mobility solutions include a solution that could replace the use of transport tickets with a digital passenger recognition system. This solution would enable personalised fare management as well as provide infrastructure managers with relevant information on mobility patterns.
There is a prominent project centred around improving the driving experience with a focus on the car windows. SEAT is analysing a laser projection system that would enable the windscreen to be used as a display.
Furthermore, SEAT is assessing a system linked to information and communication inside the car. Through this innovative technology, individual sound reaches the ears of the driver or passengers directly. Whether to integrate this system in the near future is currently under careful consideration.
The feasibility of these projects is subject to the analysis of proof of concept and will be evaluated in the coming months.
Benchmark in connected car
The advances made by XPLORA are a step further in SEAT’s commitment to becoming a benchmark in connected car. Several high profile examples of this include the partnership with Amazon to incorporate its intelligent voice assistant Alexa, the implementation of Google’s Waze navigation system or the recent addition of Shazam in SEAT vehicles.