Get to Know Gilbert

Three Transport Assistants rolled into one Butler

Here at NeoMatrix, we have created a smartphone application for Android and iOS called GILBERT. This virtual assistant is designed to fill the role of a

  • transport chronicler

  • transport accountant, and

  • transport butler,

all rolled into one.

GILBERT as Transport Chronicler

As a transport chronicler, GILBERT continually tracks and records all movement. He uses these records to analyse the user's movement patterns. GILBERT also reviews your past trips against what Google Maps would have suggested as the most efficient route. In this way, he identifies where trip waste occurs, for instance, if the user took the best route, made navigational errors, or if the trip could be faster by taking other modes of transport.

GILBERT thus helps the user making the trips cheaper, faster, and more gentle to the environment.

GILBERT as Transport Accountant

Based on the information GILBERT gathers, he goes to work as a transport accountant, costing the users’ movement in an incredibly detailed manner. This estimation not only includes obvious items like the per-km-costs of fuel use by speed and gradient, but also often overlooked items such as the yearly insurance costs or the value of one own’s travel time. Even the annual depreciation rate of the car is included.

As a result, GILBERT provides a cost overview that is far more detailed than anything that could be glanced from a generic fuel economy value such as city, highway, or combined. Computing trip costs is complex, including air temperature and density, road friction, gearing losses, driver and fuel weight and much more. Our technology includes some hard physics equations.

Thus, GILBERT provides its users for the first time ever with full cost transparency and long-term travel efficiency feedback regarding their choice of transport mode, route, and time of travel. As a result, the user becomes fully mindful of their transport behaviour. This feat is achieved regardless of whether the main mode of transport is an automobile, a taxi, the underground, a bus, a bicycle, or walking. In this fashion, the user can make decisions, that are more rational and thus more economical.

Yet that is not all. GILBERT also assists the drivers with its highly advanced refuelling functionality. Once it notices the need for refuelling the vehicle, it provides the driver with up-to-date fuel price information. He even displays temporal price fluctuations, for instance when Wednesday is the cheapest day to refill.

GILBERT also directs the driver to the cheapest petrol station. In rural areas, options are more limited in regional areas due to lower population density. This may require longer-distance driving compared to city locations. Under such circumstances, drivers can be less price-sensitive due to the reduced availability of stations. GILBERT will help drivers plan better to refuel, including where and when, i.e., which day is the best one if drivers have the flexibility to hold off a day. By providing better visibility in hitherto unconsidered ways (e.g., predicted cheapest day to refuel), drivers can plan longer drives in a more effective and economical manner.

GILBERT as Transport Butler

GILBERT helps its user to achieve significant time and money savings by cutting through the fog of complexity and opaqueness with precise information. This is helpful to most because time and money are the two main factors in human transport mode choice, as psychological research strongly indicates.

Yet this might not be enough. It is a well-known psychological insight that cold logic often founders on the rock of habit and emotion. Everybody who has tried to lose weight or give up smoking can easily attest to this fact of life and human nature. This is all the more true in the context of transport behaviour, where human decisions concerning transport mode choice, route, and time have been dominated not by rational calculation, but by habit and guesswork.

This is where our application's third role and overt persona as transport butler comes into play. Resembling virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa, GILBERT uses his unique British style and disposition to interact with the user, giving him occasional reminders and general advice. This advice may include suggesting how to make better use of road tolls, where to fill up with cheap fuel, which day to fill up based on fuel price cycles, and so on.

In addition, GILBERT may provide more advanced advice based on the historical movement patterns as recorded in his role as a transport accountant, for instance:

  • Why not consider moving closer to work or work closer to or at home?

  • We could not help but notice, Sir, that on Monday’s your regular commute is very long and always with heavy traffic. The train trip for that journey is actually 8 mins faster and would save you $31. Why not relax or work on the train, instead of doing all the driving in pollution and traffic?!?

These suggestions employ the latest psychological insights to prompt behavioural change through humour, nudging, and habit-building psychological feedback loops. This aims at overcoming the manifold mental and habitual hurdles that stand in the way of behavioural change. The users will thus be able to optimise their transport conduct, saving money and time for themselves, and the environment for us all.