Our Strength Is To Offer Complete Solutions Through Design, Simulation, Creating Digital Twin And Experimental Support For Validation Under One Roof: Dr. Reji Mathai, Director – ARAI

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In an exclusive interview with EMobility+, Dr. Reji Mathai, Director, ARAI gave us insights on ARAI’s R&D projects and its certification and standardisation services.  He also told us about ARAI’s recently formed indigenous technology group and the likely technology shifts we will be seeing in the EV industry in the near future.

R&D has been the thrust area of ARAI since its inception. Could you tell us about the latest R&D projects being implemented?

  • Development of indigenous cost-effective technology solutions for the industry in  various domains such as alternate fuels, light weighting, Materials, Electrification, batteries and other energy storage systems, intelligent vehicle systems such as ADAS etc. continues to be  the focus areas. It’s a matter of pride that many of our initiatives like Aluminium Superstructure (for a city bus) for lighting weighting, Battery Management System, AC/DC Charging Stations, Mobile Energy Storage Device for 2 and 3 Wheeler EVs, etc. are being adopted for commercialization.
  • Our strength is to offer complete solutions through design, simulation, creating digital twin and experimental support for validation under one roof. We deploy these strengths while working on programs like light weighting, green mobility, clean energy, active safety, intelligent system controls and adaptronics.

 What are some of the services provided by ARAI with respect to Certification & Standardisation?

  • We offer comprehensive certification and homologation services under one roof covering a wide range of national and international standards across all vehicles, including hybrid and battery operated vehicles. These include CMVR Type Approval of vehicles, sub-assemblies and components, CoP, Accreditation relating to active & passive safety, noise, emissions, EMI/ EMC, alternate fuel,  etc. Along with Type Approval and COP services, we also work with vehicle manufacturers for their export homologation needs. Our capabilities are complemented with state-of-the-art testing & certification facilities
  • Certification and testing is our inherent strength and the same has been acknowledged by various international certification authorities of Singapore, Netherlands, Australia, Japan etc. through their accreditations and recognitions.
  • We are also assisting the Government of India in facilitating establishing of vehicle Inspection and Certification centres all across the country.
  • ·Regarding standardisation activities, we contribute proactively in committees like Automotive Industry Standards Committee (AISC), CMVR-Technical Standing Committee, Standing Committee on Implementation of Emission Legislations (SCoE) and WP-29 as a technical secretariat. In addition to this, we provide technical support to CPCB Standing Committee and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

To further boost technology development and innovation, recently ARAI formed a dedicated Technology Group working on futuristic indigenous technologies to enable safe, sustainable and smart mobility solutions. Please tell us something about it.

  •  The primary objectives of our R&D programs are to build competencies, capacities, indigenous technologies and conduct country specific studies. Depending on the nature and scope of the projects, we focus on leveraging our strengths in various automotive engineering domains; or through collaboration with other organizations and establishing synergies. At our Technology Group, we have a dedicated team to work on emerging automotive technologies in multi-entrant, multi-domain areas. Our goal is to empower Smart Safe & Sustainable mobility solutions with focus on Indian mobility CASE (Connected & Shared, Affordable, Safe, Environment friendly towards Energy Independence).
  • Technology Group at ARAI is working in battery thermal management, smart electronics, smart vehicles, smart structures, IoT etc. BMS and Mobile Energy Storage Devices are a couple of the various developments achieved through this group.
  • To further enhance and empower the R&D ecosystem in India, ARAI recently launched a collaborative Innovation platform under the aegis of Deptt. of Heavy Industry -TechNovuus  with the aim of enabling StartUps & young minds to unlock the potential of new technologies and innovations, leading to Atma Nirbhar Bharat and Make in India. Through Technovuus platform (initiative) problem statements are provided with necessary funding and mentoring to reach Proof of Concept stage.

Kindly tell us about what challenges ARAI faced during the current pandemic and how did you overcome them? 

  • You are aware that Pune city as such and the state of Maharashtra was one of the most affected areas during the pandemic. We could re-start our operations at Chakan site by middle of May 2020 and at Kothrud by middle of June 2020. Even this resumption was with very minimal manpower as per the guidelines released by the Government from time to time. The primary challenge on resumption was of course ensuring employee safety. Immediately after the resumption, our focus was to deliver the pending assignments, due to the lockdown. Leveraging our IT infrastructure, we made every effort to carry out our assignments virtually and remotely wherever possible.
  • Necessary guidelines were issued for adoption at the workplace & even while commuting to the office.
  • Work-from-home, periodic sanitizing of the workplace & surroundings, wearing of masks, thermal scanning for body temperature, etc. were some of the measures implemented effectively by us. We also encouraged our employees to undertake virtual meetings to the extent possible.
  • Additionally, team ARAI proactively contributed to the cause by developing products and solutions to support our frontline workers. Over 20,000 face shields were distributed to the police force, medical professionals and municipal corporation, while we provided ventilator testing services for indigenously developed ventilator solutions.

With regards to the Automotive industry and especially the EV industry, what are the big technology shifts we are likely to see in the near future?

  • Sustainable mobility will continue to be the key for the success of the automotive industry in the long run. Due to this, the concept of circular economy is gaining importance, wherein resource input and wastage are minimized. In order to sustain the mobility growth, migration to alternate powertrains like EV and hybrid technologies on a larger scale may be the order of the day in the near future. So, most of the stakeholders are keenly imbibing this aspect and strategizing their plans based on this shift. With the Government of India focusing on reducing pollution levels and dependence on oil imports, the shift to e-mobility could be a game changer for the automotive industry in India. The government is rolling out EV specific policies to boost both the demand and supply side through initiatives like FAME-India. The recent impetus by Govt thru PLI scheme will further help in developing the ecosystem favorable for the auto industry as a whole and especially the emerging E-mobility sector
  • ·Disruptive technologies like Connected cars, ADAS features and navigation systems are increasingly finding their way into entry level models in the Indian industry too.
  • ·Also, as there is a need to adopt advanced manufacturing techniques, Industry 4.0 will be a phenomenal shift in the manufacturing ecosystem with the automotive industry being the key driver for many technological advances.

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