Meet R3PI Innovation Evangelist Aleksi Asikainen 

R3PI is the innovation hub of Solera, a global leader in intelligent data and software as a service. It’s not your typical office. 

At R3PI, we have a passion for the unknown and the yet-to-be-imagined. Every day, we create new forms of intelligence, shape smarter diagnostics and challenge what’s possible in technology. You’ll get your hands dirty in our garage-style offices and experiment with data and diagnostics to build the future of industry. 

Today, a fascinating conversation with a lead architect at R3PI. A self-described “janitor,” Aleksi has a hand in everything from early product development to strategy to implementation. 

Can you explain what a typical day looks like for you?
Each day is pretty varied. The only constant is that everything changes! At any given time, we’re in early stage R&D with a product and turning another over to the industrial team. 

What are the challenges currently facing the industry?
Trucking is facing a huge driver problem in both North America and Europe. Young people just aren’t getting into it. But the technology is changing rapidly. The driverless solution probably isn’t there yet, but we’re thinking about how we can move cargo, navigate high-traffic situations, deliver goods on time, etc. 

How do these challenges affect our customers? How do they affect consumers?
The entire ecosystem is changing. We predict this level of change will be similar to what the cellphone was to telephone communication. Once the transition to autonomous cars happens, it’ll change our culture—how we use vehicles and how they operate. Vehicle ownership will change, you won’t even own a vehicle. Cities will change, you’ll no longer need parking lots, gas stations on every corner, repair shops. It obviously comes with challenges for car sales and maintenance and repair shops.
In North America, it’s a cultural thing. A lot of people want to own a car. But there’s a convenience factor to think about: with an autonomous vehicle, you don’t have to wait in traffic, you can be on your phone. You don’t have to pay for vehicle insurance or repairs, because it’ll be a subscription-based system. 

What are R3PI and Solera doing to solve these challenges?
There are a lot of different elements necessary to operate driverless cars at scale. You need to manage the fleet, track the vehicles, service them. Repair shops and different service providers have to be able to connect with other cars and carry out operations and upgrades. That information needs to find its way back to whoever or whatever is managing that vehicle. That’s the space we’re focused on. the exchange of information between different parties.  

In today’s vehicles, it’s a huge problem. When you’re buying a car, you don’t know what’s happened to it before that moment. Was it in an accident, what parts does it have? Is the odometer reading correctly or was it replaced? One of our focuses is to ensure all this information and data is gathered to a trusted place. We can become a trusted source for that information. Our Digital Garage App is one of these connections points we continue to build on. You as an owner can track all things relevant about your car, connect with your garage, insurance and dealership. Bringing all stakeholders together and helping drivers to keep track of data will help to facilitate ownership changes and make it more efficient. There are a lot of different actors with huge amounts of data. But they keep it for their own purposes, rather than sharing it and figuring out how to make it work for their customers. We think that will change. 

How can the automotive industry prepare for the future?
There’s a lot of interest in having networks like these built. But blockchain concepts and data exchange between actors are in the very early stages. It’s not the early stages for the technology, it’s the politics, frankly. Companies tend to be very protective of their data because it’s valuable. But in order for blockchain to work, you have to share it with your partners. That’s a change in thinking. A couple of outliers will start it, and that will spark change in the industry and be the catalyst for everyone else. 

Tell everyone at home what we mean when we say “secure logistics.”
Secure logistics is an extension of what we’ve been talking about. How can we build security that takes advantage of all the data we’re getting? Here I am thinking about making sure data has not be tampered with, utilizing data and data sources to prevent and identify fraud and identifying the driver and asset. You will be seeing a lot of new innovations in that space.