The Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) is building capacities and getting equipped to support the Indian automotive industry in its drive to the 2020 BS VI target. In an interaction with AutoParts Asia, Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director, ARAI, explained the preparedness from different perspectives.
Q: How prepared is ARAI to support the Indian automotive industry that is fast-forwarding to BS 6?
A: I would address our preparedness from different perspectives – capacity and capabilities. The capacity is needed since all the vehicle segments will have to come for testing. They will rush in the last phase for type-approval. However, work should start now to support them at that time and we are getting ready for that. We are building capabilities for simulation based development platforms. We are also working on engine emission controls, strategies in the emission after treatment, electronic controls and hybridisation, all put together. It includes adaptation of European technology as well.
The two/three wheelers need different approach due to smaller size engines. Passenger car will not pose too much of a challenge for us as there will be technologies available elsewhere. Commercial vehicles have different challenges; we need to have multiple labs to support the industry. We inaugurated a facility last year to support the development of BS-6 engines. Additional facilities are being built in the same campus for electric, hybrid and hydrogen based vehicles. We are standardising the labs to optimise cost and therefore, they can take up development of different kinds of engines.
Q: Where do you see ARAI heading in the next five to ten years?
A: We will be emerging as a competitive global technology partner for the automotive industry. We have talent and facilities – the key ingredients required for development projects globally.
Q: Would you look at setting up a centre outside India?
A: Why not? We see that as a long-term goal; but we would like to work in a synergetic manner. There is no point in creating assets that are not getting utilised. There are partners available elsewhere in the world including Europe who can collaborate with us as we give better services. SIAT helps in identifying the potential partners.
Q: What according to you was the feather in the cap of SIAT 2017?
A: The feather in the cap of SIAT 2017 was the relevance of the theme: Smart, Safe and Sustainable Mobility. The symposium and the forum were the high point. This was for the first time that we received requests from several global organisation to present not only papers but also deliver key-note address.
Q: What was the response to paper presentations?
A: We had to limit the number of papers to about 170. But we had received 1,400 abstracts. It was a mammoth task for us to shortlist the papers to be presented at SIAT 2017.
Q: Any other aspect of SIAT 2017 that made it successful?
A: It was a high point that there was something for everybody. We had very high level plenary sessions which touched and connected with the theme at the macro level and then went into details in parallel sessions. This worked out well as we were able to get many eminent persons to talk on the subjects. One could learn from the forum everything about the global scenario of the automotive industry. The exhibition coupled with the symposium displayed the technologies starting from emission to e-mobility. So it became all under one roof.
Q: Can you summarise the benefits of SIAT editions for ARAI and the automotive industry in India?
A: I will take up the last edition, SIAT 2015. When we reviewed its outcome, we realised that majority of those technologies that were discussed in the forum get implemented in the subsequent two years. The issues discussed, if pursued, would give a roadmap for future development. It is sort of setting the context for the future of the automotive industry. We summed up all the proceedings and submitted it to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in the form of future research areas.
Q: What was the benefit for the industry?
A: Industry sees SIAT as a great learning, networking opportunity, connecting to the right people. We had to stop registration for the forum and exhibition for want of capacity.
Q: But the number of exhibitors was about 10 percent less than last edition?
A: We have stopped taking more exhibitors as we got the feedback from last edition to improve on the layout. This is the best that we could do with the available space in the campus.
Q: What about the autonomous car that ARAI had developed along with Cognizant Technologies and displayed here?
A: Our initiative is to move towards greater technology and intelligent vehicles. The purpose is not to develop autonomous vehicle; instead, it was to lay our hands on the technology with respect to the development of algorithms, technological roadmap and regulations. Besides, it is to take a step by step approach as India will not be ready for absorbing this technology in the near future. However, some of the technologies can go as additional safety feature in the vehicles to come in the immediate future. This will, for instance, on the driver assist system, automatic braking system etc. Evaluating such technologies need to be established. Therefore, we are working on a bottom-up approach as there are actually five-step approach in autonomous vehicle platform