Dr. Kamal Soi

Member at National Road Safety Council
Ministry of Road Transport & Highways

1) What most excites you about the future of mobility?

Technology is what’s is most exciting as it will lead the future of mobility. Already there are some positive initiatives and a technological dynamism that we can touch and feel today. Clearly we are in the middle of a technological transition. The idea of one household and one car will go , technology can facilitate almost 100 percent shared vehicles. Technology can assist car- and ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles potentially making individual car ownership less important for Smart Mobility. We can see more packed in, transit-oriented development , reclaiming Brownfield’s , congestion charging, electric vehicles , and non-motorized transportation. Smoother ,greener , automated, personalized travel on demand—that’s the dream of the future of mobility. The future of mobility envisages hassle & stress free travel , Safe Mobility where in road accidents don’t lead to serious injuries & deaths , where in all kind of travelers (partially able ) can travel with ease , where congestion is a thing of past , jams are not heard & emergency response vehicles are given preferential passage .

2) Besides technology, it sounds like partnerships are a key component for Smart Mobility. What is your take on this?

A big challenge for mobility is Growing "urbanization" . As per a United Nations survey it is predicted that by 2050 about 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized.

Quality of life & Smart Mobility are very closely associated . Economic health of cities is largely dependent on smarter mobility . unfortunately, the mobility systems in major cities are under strain. CO2 emissions generated by transport is a big issue being faced apart from challenges such as demographic increase, poverty concentration, social polarization, pollution and climate change. There is a dire need to develop new, more sustainable forms of mobility in order to continue to be drivers of growth. Better urban planning, Collaborative approach , partnerships , changes in individual behaviors, supported by new technologies are possible answers to these challenges.

Vehicles powered by alternative fuels such as natural gas, electricity or hydrogen, to reduce the environmental impact of transport, Sharing modes for vehicles and parking , aggregating and analyzing real-time urban road traffic and multi modal transportation data to provide passengers with more useful and meaningful experiences of journeys with less stress. Smart Mobility is the data integration and analytic capability allowing the visualization of NOW- The Real Time and the forecast determination of what is going to happen and what needs to be done next. This can only happen by aggregating vast amount of data from multiple sources, and generating new real-time information that users can act upon & by fostering partnerships.

Absolutely besides technology partnerships are the key component for smart mobility , It has to be understood that modern, Smart , Intelligent Mobility has various components to be integrated together to ensure Smart Mobility . The processes such as data collection networks, infrastructure automation and advanced communication systems are the key components of today’s smart mobility initiatives. It is only through these systems that transport operations can be optimized to realize the promise of the smart mobility & for creation of a sustainable Mobility solutions . Smart mobility aims at Reducing pollution , Reducing traffic congestion, Increasing people safety , Reducing noise pollution, Improving transfer speed , Reducing transfer cost so the partnerships among various related stake holders are must.

The partnerships have to be fostered among Municipal & Land authorities , Infrastructure maintenance & developing people , the community , private players , telecom & IT sector & above all Government to ensure the Smart Mobility is offered successfully in seamless manner .For a holistic approach to Smart mobility addressing cars, buses, and trains. We need to deploy a horizontal platform that enable data sharing, application design, and device management. For the same we need to push ecosystems and cultivate a collaborative culture. Private industry partners such as Auto manufacturers , project developers, utilities companies, service providers, and technology vendors have a key role to play in developing Smart Mobility (startup ecosystems). Governments should boost innovation, offer subsidies , create road infrastructure and collaboration through Public / Private partnerships by offering everyone a level playing field . Take baby but regular steps to move towards smarter mobility . Rome wasn’t built in one day. Start by creating Smart Mobility zones in specified city areas , have deployment blueprints, and application showcases.

Smart Mobility is smart transportation for the people. Partnerships with the Community is the key. Smart Mobility should be comprehensive, participatory, socially viable & acceptable . Launch digital equality initiatives and organize end-user education, let locals participate in technology and field trials, and get their feedback through frequent surveys and group sessions. And don’t neglect including “happy citizens” in your list of evaluation criteria.

3) What is your vision for the future of Smart city transport?

Future of Smart City Transport

Vehicles Communicating with Vehicles, Roads communicating with vehicles , to help reduce congestion. Smart cities Transport is going to be connected , sustainable , reactive & also intelligent. Smart City Transport focuses on sustainable transport solutions, where in personalized transport is used sparingly , where in the emphasis is on Public Transport , Shared Vehicles & rides , last mile connectivity through non motorized vehicles . Creation of no vehicle zones , non motorized vehicle zones etc. In the smart city, vehicles, infrastructure, public transit and people all work together as part of a connected transportation system that improves mobility and safety. The idea is to create a transport system which ensures Safe & faster mobility , fewer road crashes , fewer pedestrian injuries? Faster response time for emergency vehicles?

4) What is your take on driverless technology for the Indian Market?

Considering the Indian Scenario , India direly needs autonomous vehicles. Leave aside the deadly traffic jams and congested roads, India ranks Number 1 in terms of Road Accidents & deaths due to road accidents in the world . One death every 3 minutes due to a road accident in India. 23 children under the age of 16 die everyday due to road accidents. Although autonomous, IoT enabled cars have the potential to bring down the number of car accidents to a great extent but in Indian Scenario Autonomous cars can not be put to use commercially for transportation. Over 39 different types of traffic moves at any given point of time on Indian roads . Due to chaotic Heterogeneous Traffic Mix on Indian Roads , No technology can navigate the numerous challenges a driver faces even in big cities. From dogs , cows, bull carts , camels , elephants , auto rickshaws , cycle rickshaws , cycles etc etc. However we can create special traffic controlled zones for autonomous cars to ply. If autonomous car in India looks a very distant possibility , Mahindra & Mahindra is going to use this autonomous technology for the farmer’s cause in India by developing an Autonomous Tractor to take off the load from the farmers shoulders .

5) In your opinion, how effective will be the move from BS4 to BS6 emission systems be?

Considering the environmental impact, rising pollution levels and health hazards due to vehicular pollution, the oil ministry took the view that the country should switch over directly from BS-IV to BS-VI fuel standards. Although the initial plan was to upgrade the norms to BS-V by 1 April, 2020, a report of the Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas tabled in Parliament in May said that the Oil Ministry is considering a proposal to switch over directly from BS-IV to BS-VI auto fuels by April 1, 2020 instead of stepwise up gradation from BS-IV to BS-V and then BS-V to BS-VI." BS-VI was initially to be introduced in 2024. BS standards known as Bharat Stage emission standards, introduced in 2000, are emission standards that have been set up the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from ICE - internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change keep setting the different norms in accordance with the timeline and standards set up by the Central Pollution Control Board. The Bharat Stage norms are based on European regulations. Bharat Stage IV emission standards were put in place in April 2010 in 13 cities . BS-IV norms were supposed to come into effect nationwide from April2017.

BS-V, vehicles have to be fitted with a diesel particulate filter, which needs to be optimized for Indian road conditions & in BS VI, selective catalytic reduction technology has to be optimized. At each stage, the technology would have to be validated over 6 lakh to 7 lakh km. Given the complexity of the process, these technologies can only be optimized in series and not simultaneously.

6) How BS VI is different?

The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and new BS-VI auto fuel norms is presence of Sulphur.

BS-IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, while BS-V and BS-VI grade fuel will have 10 ppm sulphur.

It will also bring down the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars by nearly 70% and 25% from cars with petrol engines.

It will also bring down cancer causing particulate matter emissions from diesel engine cars by phenomenal 80%.

Overall a good step towards controlling emissions & reducing pollution created through transportation & to match the international norms.