The current scenario of mobility and transport is witnessing a major paradigm shift with the shift in focus towards autonomous and electrified modes of commuting. With increasing digitization and electrification of the automobile industry, globally, and the rapid growth and development of artificial intelligence the automotive industry is at the brink of the next revolution.
This revolution extends beyond changing the nature of the vehicle. It will also change the perceptions of ownership, of travel and of vehicle care.
Ownership of personal vehicles has been a fairly recent concept in India, in the scheme of things. Owning a car for the average middle-class Indian became the reality in the late 80s or the early 90s. In the past two decades, however, as disposable incomes rose, it is the kind of car one can own that became important.
Now, we are moving towards the age of the Electric Vehicle, the Connected Vehicle and Autonomous Driving.
Electric Vehicle, with the challenges related to charging infrastructure and battery technology, might push ahead the first shift in perceptions related to ownership. Swappable batteries might become the norm, at least in the early stages for small vehicles.
The automobile industry is witnessing the growth of EVs, in the form of 2-wheelers, passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles. Recent government policies aim at promoting this shift further and creating the necessary infrastructure.
Simultaneously, there is also considerable research happening in the connected and autonomous vehicle space.
A Connected Vehicle (CV) is equipped with technology that enables it to communicate with the nearby objects while an autonomous vehicle (AV) is capable enough of driving itself without human intervention. Combining both CV and AV with electric vehicles forms, these vehicles are capable to sense its surroundings with little or no human inputs.
The automobile industries today have now converged with the mobile industry and a car can now function as well as a smartphone with several features such as GPS tracking, in-built infotainment systems, Wi-Fi connectivity and much more. These connected vehicles allow interaction of the vehicles with the driver, with the infrastructure around (V2I), with other vehicles on the road (V2V), with the cloud (V2C) and even the entire surroundings (V2X). In fact, along with the features of connectivity, vehicles are now slowly transforming to autonomous ones, which require almost zero user monitoring and direct interaction based on the level of automation of the vehicle, allowing the driver to sit back and relax while the vehicle can sense space and traffic and manoeuvre itself accordingly.
The next 5 years is a great time for the Indian automotive industry to set its path for the next revolution, and perhaps lead the way in automotive research for the world.
(The article is authored by Mr. Girish Ramaswamy, Head of Engineering – Engine & Drivetrain Systems, Continental, Organising Committee Chair ITEC 2019.)