The rapid development of 5G connectivity, autonomous driving, and EV technologies opens up unprecedented opportunities for the transformation of public and commercial transportation throughout the world. Not only will this revolution lead to safer and more environmentally-friendly buses, trucks, and other vehicles; it will also drive the emergence of new services and use cases that will make the transportation of passengers and goods more efficient and convenient than ever before in urban, industrial, and rural areas alike. The new wave of last-mile delivery services that is appearing in the world’s cities will prove to be mere trickle when compared to the flood of next-generation MAAS (Mobility as a Service) models that are set to engulf the globe.
Delivering on the promise of MAAS requires a holistic approach that involves much more than the development of innovative new vehicles featuring cutting-edge wireless connectivity, driver assistance, and battery technologies. It also entails close cooperation with government authorities to facilitate the safe and rapid deployment of these new vehicles and services by providing the supporting infrastructure and regulatory environment.
To ensure the long-term growth sustainability of this new market, significant investments in training young talent to design, build, and maintain new vehicles, applications, and services will also be vital. Schools, vocational colleges, universities, and the industry itself will have to develop entirely new educational curricula and training courses to equip their students with the skills, knowledge, and expertise they will need for success in the burgeoning MAAS ecosystem.
Initiatives aimed at addressing each of these three major challenges form the core of a strategic MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) VIA signed with King Long, one of the world’s leading bus manufacturers, at a ceremony on Christmas Day at the inaugural Xiamen 5G Industrial Alliance conference.
This conference was held as part of the 16th Cross-Straits Information Industry Forum. Senior officials from the China Information Industry Association, the Fujian Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology, Fujian Association for Science and Technology, the Xiamen City Government, and the Xiang’an District Government were also in attendance.
Under this agreement, VIA and King Long will combine their advanced autonomous driving, driver assistance, wireless connectivity, cloud integration, and commercial and EV passenger vehicle design and manufacturing expertise to develop cutting-edge solutions for innovative new MAAS deployments, applications, and use cases. With over 1.2 million 5G subscribers and nearly 5,000 5G base stations already installed across the city and its surrounding districts, the coastal city of Xiamen provides the ideal environment for the incubation of these innovations and their initial commercial deployment.
The launch of a comprehensive suite of educational programs to teach university and vocational institution students how to design, build, and maintain autonomous EVs is the third key initiative in the agreement. Based on the VIA Headway Autonomous Vehicle Education and Research Platform, which uses the VIA Headway L4 Autonomous Prototype Vehicle’s hardware and software, and the VIA AI Cloud, these programs provide students the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of core autonomous driving technologies and gain hands-on experience in developing AI applications and integrating them into vehicles.
Innovation rarely occurs in a vacuum. It will take collaborative partnerships and outreach to achieve and implement the ambitious goals of innovative MAAS applications. As such, we are very excited to be collaborating closely with King Long to deliver on our shared vision for the future of mobility. By enabling us to harness our complementary technologies and expertise, this strategic agreement opens up myriad new opportunities for our two companies to develop groundbreaking MAAS models.
Realizing this technology in Xiamen’s high-connectivity environment will accelerate the growth of MAAS services and use cases in China and beyond, while the cultivation of today’s students with first-hand knowledge and experience with leading AV and EV technology ensures tomorrow’s innovators have the necessary tools to make the next evolutionary leap in the MAAS ecosystem. Empowered through these initiatives, the potential for MAAS development and innovation are mapped out before us, and assured to extend well beyond today’s horizon.