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Exclusive: How A.I. keeps a fleet of chauffeur-driven electric SUVs charged up

Jaguar I-Pace Best Car 2018
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You’ve hailed your electric Jaguar I-Pace chauffeur-driven car, which will take you from London’s Heathrow airport into the city, and it’s natural if some range anxiety may suddenly make you question whether the battery-powered car will make it to you, or to your destination.

There’s no need for concern. This is Havn, a premium app-based chauffeur-driven car service with a high-tech, artificial intelligence-driven platform underneath. This not only ensures the car will absolutely have enough power to make the journey, but also a driver who you have highly rated in the past will be driving. And in the future, even your choice of music will be playing and the air-conditioning will be set at your preferred level when you step inside the car.

Digital Trends can exclusively reveal Havn is powered by fleet management startup Fleetonomy’s platform, which uses A.I. and machine learning to ensure all of the above conditions are met, and a whole lot more behind the scenes. We discussed with Fleetonomy co-founder and CTO Lior Gerenstein how A.I. will enhance and manage the service.

A.I. delivers a fully charged car

Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Fleetonomy’s platform uses machine learning and A.I. to predict demand for Havn’s service. This is done by combining a variety of data sources, such as traffic, weather, events in the city, flight delays and historical data from the service itself,” he explained over email.

This allows the platform to put its cars in the right place at the right time, reducing the amount of time it takes for the car to reach you after hailing it in the app. In turn, it lets Havn itself better exploit its fleet of vehicles. However, Havn exclusively runs electric Jaguar I-Pace vehicles — Havn is the product of InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s transport-focused venture capital fund — and managing an all-electric fleet is very different than managing gasoline-powered vehicles.

“Fleetonomy’s platform constantly receives real-time battery level updates from all vehicles operating in the fleet,” Gerenstein said, but it’s when charging is needed that things get really clever.

“Fleetonomy provides a smart charging strategy engine, which can make real-time decisions on which vehicles need to be charged, and when. For example – choosing between fast charging, which is quick but pricey, to slow charging, which is longer but much cheaper. Our charging strategy oversees battery levels across the entire fleet, and chooses which vehicles need to be charged, when, for how long, and for what cost.”

What does this mean for you, the person waiting for your Havn car to arrive?

“Our dispatcher engine will always make sure that a vehicle has enough juice to complete a journey, from the initial location to the passenger’s pick-up point, to drop-off, and still have enough battery to make it to the nearest charging point,” Gerenstein assured us.

Using Havn’s app

Havn - chauffeuring done differently

Havn launched in London in early September, but it’s only now Fleetonomy has spoken out about how the complex behind-the-scenes platform will operate, and how important A.I. and machine learning is to the process. This will be reflected in the app, which is also operated on Fleetonomy technology, and will make the journey more personalized.

“Fleetonomy uses machine learning to personalize the service to the customer,” Gerenstein continued. “For example, if a customer prefers a specific chauffeur, they will be able to signal this in the app, and the dispatching engine will automatically try to find them a chauffeur whom they have given a high review to. In the future, other aspects of the journey, such as in-vehicle climate control, music, and other features will be automatically tailored to the passenger’s wishes, after we have learned their preferences.”

Havn has also said these preferences will include requesting the driver to concentrate on the driving, rather than any conversation. It is also noted in this Telegraph article published at Havn’s launch that all drivers are fully trained, full-time employees.

Just the beginning

Havn’s fleet solely consists of Jaguar I-Pace SE vehicles. The all-wheel-drive SUV has a range of up to 300 miles, races to 60mph in 4.5 seconds, and each Havn car comes with an iPad tablet and Wi-Fi, heated rear seats, climate control, and privacy glass. We liked it so much, it received our coveted Best Car award at the end of 2018.

The app is available for iOS and Android, but the service is currently only available in London during this early stage. Prices vary between 39 British pounds ($50) up to 150 pounds ($192), depending on the journey length. Heathrow airport into central London will cost 74 pounds ($94), for example. Travelers running late will be pleased to hear a 30 minute wait time is included in the charge, it you’re behind schedule.

In 2020, if Havn is successful, it will receive a wider launch in the U.K. Fleetonomy’s involvement in Havn has given an interesting insight into how the unique needs of electric vehicles will be managed for this kind of app-based car service now, and in the future.

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Andy Boxall
Senior Mobile Writer
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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