Gearing up for new mobility trends

by Suresh D, Group CTO, Minda Corporation 23 Mar 2022


The internal combustion engine has been around for over a century but now seems to be running into its conclusive phase with the electric vehicle surge. 

The EV powertrain is poised to become the technology of the future with a flurry of innovations happening in battery technologies. Can EVs carry forward the legacy driven by IC engine vehicles? As the silent and greener rivals, can they catch the fancy of the buyer who revels in the roar of petrol and diesel engines? 

The answer perhaps lies in the Internet which is now revolutionising the automotive sector. Connectivity enables the monitoring of real-time vehicle information such as driving styles, vehicle wear-and-tear and vehicle-to-everything (V2X). In the transportation industry, fleet owners and logistics companies can track their delivery schedules and optimise despatch patterns. 

Connectivity 
Connectivity also has an important role in traffic management and safety and this is where V2X becomes relevant in the Indian context. Nearly 150,000 people lose their lives in road accidents which only drives home the need to make roads safer. 

V2X technology can make a huge impact here as it will help vehicles interact with their environment of traffic lights, vehicle density, road signs and the radius of corners. Road travel can become effortless and seamless as a result. 

Companies worldwide are realising the potential of connectivity by monetising data available to them. Some of the opportunities being tapped include on-demand features, usage-based insurance and V2X. Some OEMs in Europe have already implemented on-demand features and V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) in their models. Such interactions can be extrapolated to new uses such as vehicles interacting with toll booths, check posts, charging stations or even pedestrians waiting to cross the road. 

V2X can enable communication between any connected road device to decide everything from dynamic speed restrictions and time to the next signal to turn red right up to dynamic route management. If 200 vehicles are on a roadway, the technology can enable each of them to gauge the other at the same time while communicating with roadway or traffic authorities. 

The exciting part is that we are only scratching the surface with more revolutionary services coming in like, for instance, managing driver behaviour as part of surveillance support. Road tests for this have already begun in the US and this would mean that your driver cannot go faster than the designated speed limit or even honk at locations where it is prohibited to do so.

Mobility 
Shared mobility has exciting prospects too and the growth of EVs, connectivity and automation could drive customers back into its fold again after a long lull following the pandemic. Some interesting developments include the growing trend of micro-shared mobility comprising two-wheelers. 

Ride hailing, car sharing and mobility–as–a–service (MaaS) has a key role to play in transportation of the future especially in the post Covid-19 era where digitalisation has increased. India is at the threshold of a momentous change in its mobility patterns. 

Autonomous driving
Autonomous driving is now emerging a reality — right now, any electronically-controlled, combustion-engine-driven fleet classifies under Level 2 where assisted driving technologies form a major part of the cost of production. 

It includes interaction based on superior cluster-controlled sensor technologies which will contribute to shaping the hybrid-EV segment for the domestic market. With reforms in traffic management and highway safety, such technologies will build the base for Level 4 autonomous driving where cars can drive by themselves without human intervention within a specific geography. 

This would of course be subject to enablers such as HD maps and preemptive inputs. Level 5 is where the vehicle would operate by itself without human intervention in any geography, allowing it to interact with multiple microchips slotted in other cars as well as traffic management systems.

The global auto fraternity is moving towards a single goal of connected driving that is environment-friendly, comfortable and safe. India will also have to gather pace in incentivising R&D while laying down plans for sustainable and smart infrastructure. No matter how long it takes, the auto industry is heading towards autonomy. The future won’t just be electric. It will be connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE).


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