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Why did Bridgestone buy TomTom for USD 1Bn & what does Boeing have to do with it?

The Dutch navigation tech giant TomTom sold its telematics unit to Bridgestone Europe for $1 billion on Tuesday.

The move brought together Europe’s number one provider of real time vehicle tracking with the world’s largest tyre manufacturer, strengthening the latter’s bid to become a provider of mobility solutions for autonomous, interconnected fleets in the next few years.

TomTom’s telematics wing was on the market since September 2018, with interest from parties like Microsoft, Verizon, Daimler and Michelin. With this sale, TomTom will finally be free of the hardware albatross around its neck to focus more on real time location mapping technology to try and oust Google from its dominant position in the market, after extensive reparations to its shareholders, that is.

Bridgestone on the other hand has been preparing to drastically expand its inventory from hardware towards a battery of comprehensive mobility solutions. The company has already built a reputation around its sensor based data collection technologies like Tirematics, FleetPulse and Bridgestone Connect. At its Rome based Digital Garage, Bridgestone has been using autonomous vehicles to test tyres, integrating tyre wear and tear data with the vehicle AI. It will now have access to the 800 million GPS positions and 3.3 million trips across Europe that TomTom documents on a daily basis. By combining the location and traffic information gathered by TomTom’s servers with its own tech, Bridgestone looks to aggressively develop its digital solutions arm.

In other news, Boeing’s experimental autonomous aircraft completed its first test flight in Virginia on Wednesday. Boeing is one of a handful of companies aggressively looking to develop short distance electric aircrafts for intra-city transport, partnering with Uber for its bid to launch ‘Uber Air’ by 2023. Bell on the other hand has already debuted its four seater short distance hybrid Nexus at this years Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Boeing’s flight is a big step that beckons an inevitable transition for the mobility and logistics industry of the future.

Vertical expansion has been a key feature of the global megacity landscape for the past few decades. What once was the need of the hour to battle congestion and create efficient spaces, is now being looked at as an infrastructural opportunity for flying taxis. Competitors are racing to develop efficient Vertical Takeoff and Landing or VTOL tech for their aircrafts, which would enable vehicles to hop from skyscraper to skyscraper without the need for extensive runways and other takeoff and landing apparatus.

The burgeoning field of aerial, autonomous, electric transport has created a level playing field for everyone from drone manufacturers to airline goliaths. Long distance electric aviation poses enormous technical hurdles that can only be surpassed with the development of more efficient and less heavy batteries. Under 50 mile distances on the other hand pose targets that are achievable in the next few years, enabling a mini-revolution in the hyperlocal last-mile delivery zone.

The Bridgestone transaction and the developments in electric aircrafts are just two of many signs that reflect the future of the automotive logistics industry – one that is connected, data driven and shared. While Bridgestone is looking to leverage TomTom’s mapping tech to better enhance its understanding of road conditions, Boeing’s efforts would be worthless if not for precise terrain mapping of the city, especially on the z axis. Combining data from on-board sensors with real time satellite imagery and existing databases is the only way to train AI to make on-the-fly, autonomous decisions for transport.

Key industry players are recognizing that a distributed, responsive network as a whole is always going to be more efficient than the individual vehicle. A vehicle not only transports goods and people from one place to another, but can potentially collect data about everything from the weather and road conditions to the traffic, for the benefit of the rest of its fleet. Vehicles working together can share responsibility, take over for each other and maximize overall efficiency.

Current industry trends like dockless transport, ride and asset sharing and distributed IoTs point to the same fact. For example, Numadic’s on-board sensors allow you to clearly assess the condition of both the vehicle and the goods at all times, without blindspots. Real time data analysis allows you to make quick strategic decisions and meet your goals with maximized efficiency. Rather than thinking about an individual consignment or truck, you can now think about your resources as a whole and divert them according to need. This is inevitable change, and you need to be a part of it now!

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