With global road activity 50% below the 2019 average by the end of March 2020, it is fair to say that transportation systems have undergone – and are still undergoing – radical changes this year. Helping decision-makers plan for new scenarios has arguably never been more critical. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge disruption to supply chains, leading many fleet managers to seek new ways to meet deadlines and stay safe in the process. Urban planners have also sought new ways to organize cities now that traffic patterns are unrecognizable, and goods and people need to move around in a socially-distanced way.
Fleet managers have had to adapt to a very different world.
Enter Immense Simulations. The company provides simulations and virtual worlds that allow transportation decision-makers to test out scenarios of all kinds. These can range from showing fleet operators the impact of introducing a fleet of electric vehicles to showing urban planners the effects of closing a road.
Immense has more than 100 cities on the platform, including London, San Francisco and New York. Now a partnership with HERE Technologies means the team has a base of location intelligence. They hope this will help them offer even more high-quality digital environments that are constantly updated.
The partnership between HERE and Immense is bringing high-quality location-based intelligence to Immense's digital worlds.
“A big part of our capability is around having these trusted digital worlds which we use to run scenarios in,” said Immense Simulations CEO Robin North. “By working with HERE, and by formalizing this partnership, we are working with the market leader in providing that location-based intelligence.”
Even before COVID-19 disrupted the world, electric vehicle sales were on the rise. They are increasingly on the radar for fleet operators who need to conform to cities’ zero emissions targets. “The fleet market is adapting to big changes," Robin said. "Demand for passenger and last-mile logistics services have shifted significantly in response to the pandemic and other changes in consumer behavior.” But before investing in a huge electric fleet, there are a lot of things fleet operators need to know.
“The fleet market is adapting to big changes in demand pattern between passenger services and last-mile distribution of goods, in response to the pandemic and other changes in consumer behavior.” – Robin North, CEO, Immense Simulations
They will need to get a full picture of the cost and operational realities of running an electric fleet, including when and where to charge the vehicles. Immense recently announced the launch of a cloud-based simulation platform that enables users to rapidly generate multiple transportation scenarios and measure their impact in minutes, using a combination of digital replicas of real cities and detailed simulation of vehicle fleets.
With Immense Solutions' cloud-based simulation platform, fleet operators can measure the impact of having an electric fleet in minutes.
“Fleet operators increasingly need to understand the business impact of having an electric vehicle fleet, having access to charge points and how and where they deploy, and how they operate, and which strategies are most effective. Their business is changing as well as the technologies,” said Robin.
Being able to try out different possibilities in simulations is a powerful tool to help them get the right insights. “It can ultimately enable them to reduce their business risks and respond to opportunities on the front foot,” Robin added.
Along with fleet management, Immense Simulations can help with infrastructure planning and strategic planning. The UK-based company, which was founded in 2016, was originally launched to help the UK government explore the impact of autonomous vehicles on the transportation network. Other scenarios the simulations have tested include visualizing the effects of a large housing and job creation scheme in the UK on the roads and public transportation systems in the area.
“Being able to better assess a day in the life of that [town or city] 20 years from now, and what some of the issues might be, helps people make better planning decisions and better infrastructure decisions,” Robin said.
The future is as yet unwritten. The pandemic is a good example of how many companies and public bodies have had to radically change their best-laid plans to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. But Robin is quick to point out that while simulations can help explore possibilities, they should not be treated as hard-and-fast realities.
“Simulations and models aren’t facts, they’re projections,” he said. “They are what-ifs – tools – to help us think about things that don’t exist yet. It’s also really important that they are used well, and not used as a means of justifying someone’s pet project. It is about providing better objective evidence and tools to make better decisions.”
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