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Almost two years ago, at STEPphireNOW, the main annual event in the horse carriage industry, transportation entrepreneur, innovator extraordinaire and founder of STEP AG, Plasso Hattner, gave a speech in which he boldly outlined the future of transportation. Hattner, who is famous in the industry for creating the first real-time horse carriage (transporting your goods as fast as a walking man) thirty years ago, presented the result of immense efforts combining cutting-edge research at the forefront of transportation with meticulous fine-tuning to customers’ needs: WAMA 1.0.

Fig. 1: STEP’s new In-Vehicle Transportation Engine (IVTE), the basis of WAMA

WAMA stands for “Wheeled AutoMotive Appliance”: a fundamentally new type of horse-carriage that actually functions without a horse and replaces it with a combustion engine. The new architecture of the combustion engine makes massive use parallelization, distributing the workload to eight cylinders and attaining unheard-of performance and energy-efficiency and enabling entirely new scenarios that were unthinkable with the established horse-carriage technology. With WAMA, you can carry as much as one hundred times the load of a traditional horse-carriage, and drive fifty times as fast. WAMA vehicles come in a number of different t-shirt sizes from S to XXL, but even the smallest ones are motorized with enough power to drive from Walldorf to Potsdam in a matter of hours instead of days.

In his presentation before industry thought-leaders, Hattner boldly sketched a roadmap for the following years, resulting in the eventual obsolescene of horse-carriage and its full replacement by motorized vehicles within the next decade.

Following the event, an uproar went through the industry. Although the interest in the new technology (albeit mixed with some scepticism) is great, both analysts and customers pointed out that Hattner’s plan lacked answers to some crucial questions:

  • How would customers’ investment in the existing horse-carriage technology be protected in the future?
  • Would Hattner fulfil the eight-years maintenance agreements with customers who just bought Horse Carriage (HC) 7.0?
  • Would Horse Carriage 7.0 be followed by future versions or would Hattner abandon the Horse Carriage product line, thereby forcing his HC client base to migrate to WAMA?

Clearly, Hattner had not thought through the market implications of his presentation at STEPphireNOW well enough. Consequently, horse-carriage product managers and solution experts worked day and night to resolve the confusion and present customers, partners, and analysts with a clear positioning of the products in question.
Their message was warmly welcomed and is reiterated for clarification whenever a customer asks whether or not the automobile renders the horse-carriage obsolete:

  • Both the automobile and the horse-carriage have distinct strengths and use cases.
  • The automobile doesn’t replace the horse-carriage, it just adds to the number of usages and possible use cases.
  • Horse-carriages are here to stay. STEP will protect customers’ investments in their horse-carriage fleets and the skills of the coachmen’s community.
  • You should buy an automobile, but this will not render your existing horse-carriage obsolete. In fact, there are valid scenarios in which an automobile and a horse-carriage coexist, complementing their strengths.

The latter point is especially interesting. Further examination reveals a number of typical integration scenarios bearing minimal disruptiveness:

  • A horse-carriage is pulled by an automobile.
  • An automobile is pulled by a horse-carriage.
  • Both drive side by side, adding up their horse-powers and each vehicle acting as a back-up, should the other vehicle’s propulsion fail.

A detailed roadmap with an emphasis on integration and coexistence will make sure that customers’ investments in valuable assets such as governance processes for horseshoe-renewal procedures, coachmen’s skills and organizational structures, and haysacks are preserved for years to come.

Fig. 2: Integration scenarios combining the strengths of WAMA and horse-carriages

Thought leaders in the industry foresee a convergence of both technologies, possibly resulting in horses with exhaust pipes or cars with oversized blinders.

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11 Comments

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  1. James Oswald
    With no more horses in the streets, what will happen to all of the hardworking men who do nothing but clean up poop in the streets. Certainly they cannot be retrained for use in this new WAMA world.

    HATTNER, YOU ARE STARVING THE CHILDREN OF THE WORKING CLASS!

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    1. Sascha Wenninger
      …or those who laboriously breed horses by starting from the requirements documented by customers in many bound volumes? Requirements like stamina, top speed, coat colour and glossiness, etc. It used to take years to breed the correct horse for the customer’s and turned the practice of horse breeding into an art form. And what now? Will those careers be resigned to the dustbin of locomotion? Anyone with WAMA will be able to do things like manipulate the accelerator or change gear themselves in order to go faster or slower and won’t have to rely on the horse-breeding guild and their craft any longer!

      Truly a game changer! 😮

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    2. Steve Rumsby
      Clearly anything moving quite as fast as the WAMA devices will need to warn others of its approach. I suggest the poop scoopers can be re-deployed carrying red flags and walking in front of the WAMA machines so everyone knows they are coming.
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      1. Uwe Fetzer
        What if STEP AG would find more than 10 customers: someone has to invent something like an autobahn. Stupid.
        Hope until than we have found some standards in Europe ie. driving on the right lane. Imaging in some countries the maschine horses would drive left and in others they’d drive right. Chaos, I promise you!
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  2. Susan Keohan
    As someone bound to be in the horse and carriage situation for years to come, I am grateful to learn that STEP will continue to support it.  Plus a little grain would be nice – dare I ask for so much?
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  3. Jan Penninkhof
    Hattner is going much faster than I thought: Instead of building a steam-based in-turbine device, he applies the much more expensive in-cylinder technology. I doubt the market is ready to embrace such cutting edge technology.
    And the combination of different types of engines in his hybrid vehicle is just insane… 😉
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  4. Uwe Fetzer
    Here are some Qs I’ve already written in my mass mailing (twitter).

    But first of all my 2 ct to this “invention”: nobody needs this transportation speed, not in 100 years (max 1 for the whole world).

    – what if the engine bursts? Is the whole load lost? Or do we always have to carry a spare engine with us?
    – who should drive these vehicles? Are driving licenses needed? Who will teach us? At what costs? Maybe we should build a group (a thinktank with around 5 people) to clearify these things. Naming suggestion “D5”

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  5. Martin English
    Similar to many others, I have some questions regarding the WAMA technology. However, I have some observations as well, which may help set the scene….

    Parralell operation of the HC devices has been available since the early CM days; in fact, I have seen stable high speed systems running in 3×2 and even 4×2 versions.  These are quite capable of loads similar to those being claimed for the WAMA devices. On the other hand, the US postal services have had great sucess with high-speed HC devices, in the Thorobreed configuration combined with agressive networking.

    This all begs the question; why would you want to make it any faster (or easier) for these people to escape Waldorf ?

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