We expect mobility to be autonomous, with and without hydrogen — Capgemini, IIT Dhanbad

In a conversation with Nisheeth Srivastava, the Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Capgemini, and Professor Rajiv Shekhar – Director IIT, Dhanbad, Express Mobility learns how a technology service provider and a technical institute can bring about changes in the automotive industry.

We expect mobility to be autonomous, with and without hydrogen — Capgemini, IIT Dhanbad
Nisheeth Srivastava, the Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Capgemini, and Professor Rajiv Shekhar – Director IIT, Dhanbad

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the automobile industry, and its importance of it is only emphasised when companies like Capgemini team up with leading institutions such as IIT Dhanbad to develop and constantly keep the auto industry with the latest in tech. The modern automotive world has moved on from trying to compete with each other, to partnering together to co-create and innovate.

To get a better understanding of what a leading multinational information technology services and consulting company is doing in collaboration with a leading technical institute in the automotive industry, Express Mobility spoke to Nisheeth Srivastava, the Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Capgemini, and Professor Rajiv Shekhar – Director IIT [ISM], Dhanbad.

Speaking about the reason behind the collaboration with IIT, “When we develop new things in any organization, it will be silly to not engage the collective intelligence of the outside world. In India, we do work with IITs, with IIMs, with ISCs, etc., on a range of things from quantum technology to deep tech to innovations to design, and digital transformation. Globally also we work with the likes of Stanford for example on Digital Economy Lab and MIT,” said Nisheeth.

He added, “That’s the spirit of collaboration and innovation that we want to bring in, not just for our talent enhancement within Capgemini and for that of the clients, but also to bring the industry perspective to the academic institutions, to the faculty, and most importantly I believe social responsibility to the students, so the students become more future-ready and all of that.”

Highlighting the opportunities the collaboration between IIT and Capgemini, Professor Rajiv said, “Let us look at this way, India always aspires to be a superpower, and you can only be a superpower if you are a technology superpower, I mean this is one of the essential ingredients. So at IIT, we are gradually shifting focus from publications to product development.”

He added, “And one of the problems that we had for implementation of blockchain and machine learning algorithms, is many of us know the fundamentals, but the problem here is in academics in India we live in such an insulated atmosphere we do not know what are the needs of the industry.”

Speaking on the collaboration and its future for the automotive industry, Professor Rajiv is confident that the way forward for mobility will be electric. He said, “Down the line, it would be electric mobility with batteries powered by hydrogen. And we expect the mobility to be autonomous, I mean this is autonomous electric mobility with and without hydrogen.”

In an electric vehicle, there are numerous things to integrate, such as sensors, LiDAR, the amount of current that passes on to the motor, etc, which need hardware integration. Professor Rajiv said, “When you look at a car, it is a very complex entity with several components, electrical, electronic, computers, metallurgy, mechanical, everything, now this integration is a very complex object.” He added, “And what we have been doing with Capgemini is, for example, we have tried to bring a model-based systems engineering on the same platform product life-sized cycle management software.”

“The other thing, for example, our projects with Capgemini is on-demand forecasting of vehicles — What could be the demand of a vehicle, based on the economic condition, GDP, inflation, sales of cars, sales of cars of the competitors, number of test drives, etc. Then, a third thing was about the electrical battery management systems in vehicles.” This allows users to know how much charge the battery has and the closest charging station. The two are also working on wireless charging pods that charge EVs on the go.

Given the current scenario, there are a few ways one runs electric cars day-to-day. Regular charging, quick charging, and battery swaps are yet to make it into the four-wheeler segment. Speaking on this, Nisheeth said, “There’s no one size fits all situation. These are just very preliminary technologies. Many new possibilities will emerge.” Nisheeth’s opinion is that in the next 10 years, there will be so many changes that today’s methods might not even exist.

Like any change, implementing new technology brings along its set of challenges. This is an area IIT is trying to overcome. “It is not only about electric mobility, it is about how to inculcate and innovative an entrepreneurial mindset among our faculty and students. I see my faculty colleagues, comfortable doing experiments in the lab, finding out new stuff, but when it comes to scaling up that is where we fall that is a problem in the country,” said Professor Rajiv.

He added, “There is a sense we have to develop among our faculty and students. We have to inculcate and innovative an entrepreneurial mindset, not in terms of opening a company, but in terms of how you look at a problem.” He points out that in India, we try catching up most of the time, and with technology, we are 20 to 30 years behind.

Expressing his opinion on clean versus connected mobility, Professor Rajiv said, “Obviously it has to be a combination of them both.” He added, “If it is clean, but not connected, it’s well begun but half-done.” However, Nisheeth said, “Connectivity is absolutely necessary but if you don’t have clean energy, you won’t have a planet to ride it on.”

Capgemini has invested a lot in clean and sustainable energy over the years, not only in India but on a global scale. Nisheeth added, “Clean energy, clean computing, clean management, everything around emissions we are tracking down to the last carbon.”

Capgemini announced last year that it will transition to a fully electric fleet by 2030 and purchase only hybrid and electric cars and vans in the future for its 12,000-vehicle company fleet. As per Capgemini’s predictions, the market for EV sales is forecasted to reach approximately 29.5% of all new car sales in 2030 from roughly 3.4% in 2021. This would also see sales increase to 4.7 million in 2030 from a little more than 500,000 in 2022.

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