Raghavender Sahdev: 'We are keen on India as a production hub'
Speaking about the recent partnership with EKA, Raghavender Sahadev, CEO and co-founder, NuPort Robotics, says the company aims to have a commercially viable deployment of autonomous driving technologies.
Is your partnership with EKA an exclusive one? Or are you looking to work OEMs too?
Our partnership is not an exclusive one. However, EKA is our first client in India and we are also looking to work with other OEMs. It's a multi-year partnership during which NuPort and EKA will plan to work together to deploy level 2 autonomy in electric buses thereby leading to a safer transportation system. We will continue to develop partnerships with companies that have made that vision part of their mission.
What will be the tentative cost of adopting your technology and what’s the preferred model?
The tentative cost of adopting the technology would be a small percentage of the value of the truck/bus depending on the vehicle, level 2 autonomy features and scale of deployment for the given client. It will be a mixture of both one-time fee and a software as a service model.
What are your key learnings in the last few years?
We have learnt that solving challenges in transportation involves an entire ecosystem of partners and stakeholders. Some of our biggest achievements have been in developing partnerships with technology suppliers, tech providers, OEMs, trucking companies, retailers, regulators, government bodies, investors, insurance providers, research and academic institutions among others. We continue to work with our partners to collectively deploy our solutions at scale.
What are NuPort Robotics’ key offerings for the automotive industry?
For the Indian automotive industry, we are bringing level 2 autonomy features such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and driver suggestions to increase the safety and efficiency of the system. Our goal is to work with OEMs and provide them with unique features thereby leading to futuristic and innovative commercial vehicles.
What is the price point at which you can deploy your tech in India without compromising profitability?
We understand that India is a very price sensitive market and that is the reason we want to deploy our technology in the country. It forces us to keep our costs low and deploy at scale. We have the opportunity to ‘Make in India’ and lead to the enhancement of affordable autonomous driving solutions and at the same time contributing towards the innovation for autonomous driving technologies in the country.
Are you looking at India as a manufacturing/export hub for your hardware needs?
Yes, we are seriously considering India to become a manufacturing hub for our hardware needs in addition to R&D, partnerships and operations. At present, we are evaluating this in further detail. Our plan is to build a strong team in India the members of which shares and understands our vision for deployments of autonomous driving technology commercially and at scale. Our initial investment for our Indian operations is in the order of a few million dollars.
How do you plan to improve degree of accuracy given the dynamic nature of driving conditions in India compared to North America?
Due to the dynamic nature of the driving conditions in India, we are initially only focusing on Level 2 autonomy which assists the driver and makes overall driving much safer whereas in North America we are focusing on Level 4 autonomy. We are building robust autonomous driving algorithms (perception and navigation) specifically being designed for Indian driving conditions. Our level 2 autonomy algorithms are designed keeping this in mind.
Will you look at the retrofitting or aftermarket solution for India and other global markets?
Yes, we are looking at a retrofit aftermarket solution for both Indian and global markets. But our immediate goal for India is to collaborate and partner with OEMs. Our current focus is targeted towards deployments of the technology for heavy commercial vehicles (trucks and buses) to begin with and test.
You had earlier mentioned that the autonomous driving solution can be implemented in closed environment. Can you elaborate?
The technology for deployment of autonomous driving solutions in closed environments such as ports and large warehouses is a subset of the bigger technical problem of deployment on roads. We have been testing our technology in closed environments in Canada. If an interesting use case presents for India, which makes strategic and commercial sense for NuPort, we would be happy to explore.
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