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MWC: Seat Minimó – AI meets urban mobility

Picture: Arthur Goldstuck

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Seat unveiled the Minimó – a concept car that it says will transform urban mobility. With this concept, the company confirms it is going to spearhead the Volkswagen Group’s micromobility strategy by coming up with ideas and creating products specifically designed for short trips within cities.

Click through to read about Seat’s latest concept car and how it implements AI.

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Seat claims its latest concept car combines the safety and comfort of a car with the agility and parking ease of a motorcycle. It has been especially developed for shared use, is 100% electric and thanks to an innovative battery swap system, it enables carsharing providers to reduce their operating costs by up to 50%.

Over the course of the congress, Seat had the chance to meet with and listen to representatives of several public institutions to learn about their views and specific needs regarding urban mobility. As a result of these joint efforts, SEAT will analyse the possibilities of integrating the proposals made by authorities and the public in the development of the SEAT Minimó concept car to find solutions with a common goal – enhance urban mobility.

Seat and IBM also reported the development of a new solution designed to transform driving in cities. Mobility Advisor uses IBM Watson AI to help urban citizens make informed decisions about their daily transportation options: from cars to scooters, bikes and public transport.

Currently under development and designed to run as a mobile app on 4G/5G networks, Mobility Advisor uses IBM Watson Assistant to provide users with a conversational interface to plan and optimise routes and suggest the most suitable transportation options.

“Traffic congestion and environmental challenges are putting huge pressure on cities to transform,” said Jordi Caus, head of new urban mobility concepts at Seat. “At Seat, we are leading the way by working with innovative cities and technology companies to come up with solutions to make mobility easier and more efficient. With its advanced cloud and AI technologies, IBM is helping us to innovate new approaches to mobility that will transform our business strategy while improving the lives of people living in urban areas.”

With IBM Watson Machine Learning, Mobility Advisor can learn a user’s preferences and make personalised recommendations for how best to complete a journey. Connected to the IBM Cloud, it dynamically adapts to changing conditions by taking into account weather forecasts, traffic reports and things happening in the city that day. It incorporates the user’s appointments and historical data about previous choices in order to suggest the best modes of transportation each time – even if that means leaving the car behind, walking, or using one of Seat’s e-KickScooters for the part of the journey.

“With the roll-out of 5G networks in cities in the coming years, the possibilities for transforming the driver experience are limitless,” said Juan Ramon Gutierrez Villar, industry solutions leader at IBM Global Markets. “At IBM, we are working with telecommunications companies and innovative manufacturers like Seat to provide the open technologies which they need to deliver on this vision and create highly contextualized and personalized user experiences that work at lightning speed across multiple clouds and IT platforms.”

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Acer TravelMate X5

Acer’s latest addition to its TravelMate series brings a full 14” IPS panel to a notebook weighing under 1kg.

Click through to read about the computer.

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Acer has unveiled its TravelMate X514-51 commercial notebook series for small and medium business users. It’s designed for professionals requiring a durable, yet sleek device that can support heavy workloads and frequent business travel.  

The TravelMate X5 sports a premium quality magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis for holding up to the rigours of life on the go. These materials are two to four times stronger than standard aluminium alloys at the same thickness, yet weigh between 20-35 percent less. This blend of materials makes the notebook thin and light while also being resistant to bending and twisting.

Highly portable, the notebook computer weighs just 980 grams and measures 15 mm thin making it easier to hold and fit in a briefcase, bag or backpack. Acer claims the computer has up to 10 hours of battery life to support a full day’s work on a single charge. Primed for excellent performance, the new notebooks are powered by up to 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processors, up to 16GB DDR4 memory, and up to fast and responsive two 512GB solid-state drives for viewing and editing large spreadsheets, presentations and videos. Outfitted with Windows 10 Pro, the notebook provides powerful security and productivity essentials.

“We’re confident our professional customers will appreciate our thinnest and lightest professional notebooks to date,” says Belinda Marais from Acer Africa. “Sleek, yet robust, they’re built for the rigours of frequent travel with a sturdy chassis and strong security features to keep data safe at home and abroad.”

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Tesla Model Y electric compact SUV

Tesla yesterday announced its latest electric compact SUV with impressive sport-like performance. The SUV claims a range of around 480 km on a single charge.

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The Model Y is Tesla’s fifth car to market and marks the company’s second attempt at producing a mass-market electric vehicle.

“An SUV that will ride like a sports car,” said Elon Musk at the Model Y launch event. The South African-born CEO was referring to the performance version of the SUV, which is claimed to reach 100kph in 3.5 seconds from stationary.

Models expected to be released in the second half of 2020 include a long-range ($47 000/R680 000), all-wheel drive ($51 000/R740 000), and performance model ($60 000/~R870 000). A cheaper commercial model is expected to launch in 2021.

The seven-passenger vehicle’s interior will feature a touchscreen control panel on the dashboard, similar to the Model 3. It will also sport a panoramic sunroof.

“The cool thing is, it’s ‘feature complete,’” said Musk, with reference to the fitted sensors. “It will be able to do basically anything just with software upgrades.”

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