Ridecell introduces the first complete autonomous new mobility solution with acquisition of Auro and the launch of the Ridecell Autonomous Operations Platform

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San Francisco, Calif – October 9, 2017 – Ridecell,™ Inc., the leading global platform for carsharing and ridesharing operators, today announced the acquisition of Auro, a California based developer of autonomous vehicle technology, in an all-stock transaction. Ridecell also announced the public availability of its autonomous operations platform which has successfully been used in autonomous pilot programs. With these two initiatives, Ridecell now offers the industry’s first complete autonomous new mobility solution that enables on-demand autonomous shuttle mobility service in low-speed, private-road settings.

The Auro acquisition will bring the expertise to accelerate the capabilities of the Ridecell autonomous operations platform. The Auro team will become the Ridecell Autonomous Driving Division. Ridecell will be able to extensively test its autonomous operations platform in real world environments through integration of Auro-enabled driverless shuttles in private road environments. Ridecell will continue to collaborate with autonomous leaders to apply the Ridecell platform to the world’s leading self-driving vehicles for automated management of operational tasks such as cleaning, refueling, and emergency response situations.

“The Auro acquisition and the launch of our autonomous operations platform represent the next phase of our strategy to provide a complete autonomous solution for Ridecell customers,” said Aarjav Trivedi, CEO of Ridecell. “We can now provide even more value for our autonomous customers and help mobility operators launch new carsharing, ridesharing, and on-demand shuttle services today that will accommodate the addition of autonomous vehicles without the need to change the underlying platform. The acquisition makes it possible to launch a proven autonomous shuttle service today in settings such as corporate and college campuses.”

Auro Acquisition 
Auro’s autonomous technology is the leading self-driving platform for low speed deployments. Auro partners with shuttle manufacturers to add self-driving capabilities to leading shuttle and neighborhood electric vehicle platforms. These shuttles can safely drive people around within campuses, theme parks, resorts, business parks, and retirement communities.

Private environments with low-traffic, low-speed roads provide the perfect setting for deploying autonomous vehicles today. Auro-enabled shuttles were among the first driverless shuttles put into daily operation on the Santa Clara University campus in California and have already provided safe transportation to thousands of riders.

“The technology behind Auro-enabled driverless shuttles, together with the Ridecell on-demand mobility platform, will help campuses and other private environments prove that autonomy can be an integral part of an urban transportation experience today, rather than just a short, fixed- route showcase,” said Nalin Gupta, CEO of Auro. “We are excited to join forces with Ridecell to make even bigger strides in autonomous new mobility.”

Auro was founded in 2013 by roboticists from Indian Institutes of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University, who have worked together on autonomous vehicles since 2011, and is backed by investors including Y Combinator and Motus ventures.

Ridecell Autonomous Operations Platform
Ridecell also announced the availability of its new autonomous operations platform. The platform is designed to automate vehicle and operations management for autonomous fleets.

The platform gives autonomous vehicle fleets the intelligence to manage their own operational tasks, in both routine and emergency situations. The platform can direct autonomous vehicles to operations depots for maintenance and route support vehicles to the autonomous vehicle for routine operational tasks such as cleaning as well as on-demand assistance in exceptional situations. The platform also automates vehicle access so service personnel are able to enter the vehicle. Additionally, the platform automates reporting for autonomous compliance and risk data.

Today’s announcement cements Ridecell as the leading new mobility company with a platform that scales from driven to driverless new mobility services.

About Ridecell:
Ridecell is on a mission to empower new mobility operators, including OEMs, car rental companies, auto clubs, cities, transit agencies, dealer groups, and private fleets to launch,expand, and maximize the utilization of their own ridesharing and carsharing services. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company provides an intelligent software platform that runs new mobility services, such as carsharing, ridesharing, and autonomous fleet management. End-to-end integration and automation accelerate time to market, enabling Ridecell customers to launch mobility services quickly, operate efficiently, and scale revenues as business grows. Founded in 2009, Ridecell has already processed over 20 million rides and rentals and has a team of more than 100 professionals in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. The company now powers new mobility offerings, including BMW’s ReachNow, VW’s OMNI and AAA’s GIG Carsharing service. In addition, Ridecell powers dynamic shuttle services for campuses such as Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, UCSF, 3M, and transit agencies like SouthWest Transit.

Source: Ridecell

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Tata Motors forays into future mobility solutions with TAMO

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As reported earlier by us, Tata Motors unveiled their new sub-brand TAMO.

As a core element of its transformation journey ‘FutuReady’, Tata Motors presented today its new Passenger Vehicle strategy and introduced its new sub-brand – TAMO. It will act as an incubating center of innovation towards new technologies, business models and partnerships in order to define future mobility solutions.

TAMO as a new, separated vertical will operate in the first step on a low volume, low investment model to provide fast tracked proves of technologies and concepts. TAMO will act as an open platform to network with global startups and leading tech companies, to get access to trends, innovations and solutions, for the design of exciting future products and services. For the rapidly changing automotive environment, TAMO will transform the experience of interfacing and interacting with customers and the wider community. TAMO will provide a digital eco-system, which will be leveraged by Tata Motors to support the mainstream business in the future.

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Speaking on the announcement, Guenter Butschek, MD & CEO, Tata Motors, said, “The success of our transformation journey ‘FutuReady’ is measured by our vision and depends on our ability to deliver on our comprehensive strategies for our business units. Our game plan addresses six themes – topline improvement, cost management, structural improvements, customer centricity, new mobility solutions and organizational effectiveness. To secure our future in a rapidly changing environment, the advanced mobility solutions space is of utmost importance. The introduction of TAMO will help us to co-design India’s automotive footprint by taking new technologies and mobility concepts as a new ecosystem to market.”

Tata Motors’ New Passenger Vehicle (PV) Strategy

To achieve sustainable financial performance, while delivering exciting innovations, Tata Motors is aiming to be amongst the top 3 passenger vehicles by 2019, in India. Taking an outside-in approach, Tata Motors reviewed its existing PV product portfolio and formulated a new PV strategy based on the evaluation of different customer segments and global progressions in terms of design, technology and innovation. Tata Motors foresees a strong demand growth in the hatchback and the SUV segments, according to this study.

Speaking on its well-defined PV Strategy, Mayank Pareek, President, PV Business, Tata Motors, said, “In line with our new PV strategy, our portfolio will include a mix of brand enhancing products and ones that are well aligned to the rising aspirations of the different target customer segments. Our strategy is to deliver 7-8 product variants from two platforms, for greater coverage and sizable economies of scale. Our new architectural approach supports our effort to reduce complexity, enables future technologies and ensures global relevance. We have mapped technology solutions in key areas such as powertrain systems, ADAS and enhanced connectivity to our future product portfolio and have defined the application framework. Our goal is not to just comply with the emerging regulations but be ahead of the requirement.”


Technology drivers that will lead the future

The automotive industry is facing a discontinuity in the nature of mobility, and the products & services needed to satisfy the emerging customer preferences. These emerging trends may lead to a new set of competitors thus causing disruption in the traditional operating models. To secure a future position in a rapidly changing environment, Tata Motors is actively exploring opportunities to offer products and solutions catering to the discerning needs of our customers, new approaches, technologies, business models and partnerships.

Speaking on tapping innovative mindset globally, Dr. Tim Leverton, President and Head Advanced and Product Engineering, Tata Motors, said, “With TAMO, we are starting a new era. The idea is to find new and agile ways of innovating and experimenting. Our success in this new mobility world will be contingent to our ability to network globally and to partner with new thought leaders. Our focus will be to scout for new technologies and to explore opportunities at the innovation hubs across the globe and to work with start-ups in the new spaces. Since this requires a different way of thinking, we will apply within TAMO also, new ways of working because leadership is all about time to market.”

The first product developed by TAMO will premiere at the upcoming 87th Geneva International Motor Show on March 7, 2017.

About Tata Motors

Tata Motors Limited is India’s largest automobile company, with consolidated revenues of INR 2,75,561 crores (USD 41.6 billion) in 2015-16. Through subsidiaries and associate companies, Tata Motors has operations in the UK, South Korea, Thailand, South Africa and Indonesia. Among them is Jaguar Land Rover, the business comprising the two iconic British brands. It also has an industrial joint venture with Fiat in India.  With over 9 million Tata vehicles plying in India, Tata Motors is the country’s market leader in commercial vehicles and among the top in passenger vehicles. Tata cars, buses and trucks are being marketed in several countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia, South America, Australia, CIS and Russia.

Watch the action unfold as the countdown begins on www.tamo.co.in

India’s first 100% electric vehicle fleet cab service: Lithium Urban Technologies

Lithium Urban Technologies calls itself the company which delivers tomorrow’s transport transportation today(their tagline “TOMORROW’S TRANSPORTATION. TODAY.) and that might sound like an audacious claim from an Indian cab service provider that too from a startup. But that is true, it is the only company in India to have 100% electric fleet, it is the first zero emission transport service provider of India.

Lithium Urban Technologies Pvt Ltd is founded in October 2014 by Sanjay Krishan in Bengaluru. The company initially started off with 10 Mahindra e2o’s  and now they have a fleet of 200 plus electric vehicles and several hundred more are in pipeline. They started their operations initially in Bengaluru and now they are planning to enter North Central Region(NCR) of India. Despite many oddities the company is successfully marching ahead into new regions and new segments.

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Lithium Urban Technologies Co-Founder Sanjay Akhileswaran Krishnan. Image source: link

Why Electric Vehicles? Simple, the founders are feeling responsible for the the environment and are daring enough to do something good.

Is it Commercially Viable? Looking at the oddities the answer must be a big no, but the company is proving that it is possible to strike balance between commercial viability and environmental friendliness.In general, addressing one negates the other and growing while balancing both(profitability & environmental friendliness) is a commendable job.

What are the oddities before the company? 

  • Lack of Charging Infrastructure: Charging stations to electric vehicles are like petrol bunks to IC engine cars. In America there are very few charging stations compared to the number of gas stations, let alone India the number is minuscule.
  • Lack of uninterrupted power supply: If somehow the company manages to find or establish charging stations, then there is this problem of getting 24*7 power supply let alone quality supply. Getting quality power without interruptions throughout the year throughout the country is a tough ask in India.
  • Lack of Proper Electric Vehicles: The only electric vehicle available for purchase in India is Mahindra e2o(at the time founding Lithium Urban) which in many aspects is inferior to its conventional counterparts. Aspects like cramped interiors, rear seats access and range per charge are a few to say.
  • Battery Life and Replacement Costs: Battery pack to electric vehicles is like a fuel tank to IC engine cars. Let me use an analogy to help you understand the problems associated with battery packs. Imagine if your car’s fuel tank decreases in size over time & it cannot hold same amount of fuel as it does in the initial days and also it cannot take fuel at higher inflow rates so you have to slowly pump the fuel or it will spill off. And you have replace the fuel tank a couple of times before you replace the car itself. That is how it is with Electric Cars & Battery Packs. Though this a problem now, in the future this might not be a problem as the batteries are constantly improving and also battery costs are constantly falling.
  • Establishment Costs: Apart from the real estate costs,telemetry platform costs and other costs, the major capital requirement for any cab service provider is capital to purchase the fleet. In case of electric vehicle fleet the cost is multiple times higher than that of the conventional fleet. Mahindra e20 base variant on-road price in Bengaluru is INR 7.10 lakh and Tata Nano base variant on-road price in Bengaluru is INR 2.32 lakh. (*According to Cardekho and Tata Motors websites respectively ** Mahindra e20 is now discontinued and replaced with Mahindra e20 Plus)
  • And many more challenges like customer perception towards electric vehicles, safety(possibility of battery explosions),…etc are to be addressed by the company.

Lithium Urban Technologies despite all these challenges is managing to succeed and move forward. And apart from these inherent challenges associated with electric vehicles there are challenges like competition from established players and biggies national & international like Ola and Uber etc.

How the company is overcoming all these difficulties and progressing? The answer is simple, to start with, they chose a sub segment which they can serve despite their limitations. And as the numbers rise they will explore new segments and new geographies.

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Lithium Urban’s website’s landing page

What is the segment and city that they chose to start their operations? The segment is Corporate Employees Transport and the city is Bengaluru/Bangalore. The company found out that catering to corporate customers can solve many of their hurdles at once. Well, but why & how choosing corporates as their clients can help them. And what is the business model adopted.

  • Lithium is counting on the corporate companies to recharge their cars as the companies will already have the required infrastructure to supply uninterrupted & quality power. Lithium establishes a charging station at the premises of a company that signs up with them for their transportation services.

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    Lithium’s charging station at a company’s premises
  • The corporates have to pay Lithium on per-car-per-month basis irrespective of the miles driven. And the companies(clients) have to bear the electricity bills.
  • As the routes are fixed, timings are known and passengers are known, predictability is more and the complexities involved are less compared to that of their counterparts.
  • Coming to financial hurdles, apart from the founding members own investments, Lithium got backing from Robin Chase and Ramachandran. Ramachandran is chairman at InKlude Labs and former head of Morgan Stanley India. Robin Chase is a transportation entrepreneur and co-founder of ZipCar. Both the investors are happy and optimistic about Lithium Urban.

Companies saw partnering with Lithium Urban Technologies as a tool to reduce their carbon footprint and as a part of their social responsibility. Soon, Lithium roped in Tesco Plc as their first client. And other companies followed the suit. Companies like Accenture, Adobe Systems and VMware are few of their clients. VMware is one of their biggest clients.

Where Next and What Next? Lithium is planning to operate pan India. As most of their corporate clients have offices at more than one city and have thousands of employees at each city, Lithium is planning to extend the services to their existing clients at their other locations. This includes cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad etc.

As they spread across various  cities and scale up, they will start catering to non corporate clients i.e., to public. Until then they will concentrate only on corporate clients.

Coming to the what next question, The future of urban public transportation will be driven by four key tenets: clean, distributed, shared and connected, according to Krishnan. Keeping that in mind, he wants Lithium to eventually engage across the electric mobility value chain.

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Image source: link

Sanjay Krishnan plans to collaborate with more OEMs to introduce different new form factors (vehicles) for freight, mass transit and consumer transport by April 2017, and wants the company to expand its fleet to 6,000 vehicles in four years.To do all that and more, the company, which has raised $1.3 million of equity and $1.3 million of debt, is looking to raise $6-7 million.

In addition to Ramachandran and Chase, Lithium counts KPIT promoters’ group, Kewal Nohria, Cognizant’s Lakshmi Narayanan, H.V. (Prasad) Subramaniam and Subrata Ghosh as its angel investors.

And another member to back Lithium Urban Technologies is none other than the man who gave India its first electric car Reva, Chetan Maini. Maini is also very optimistic about Lithium.

“When I started Reva, it was way ahead of its time. What is happening today is a host of factors coming together” such as better technology, awareness of electric cars and a more favourable policy stance from global lawmakers, he said.

“The long-term vision is to move into several different product platforms,” said Maini, who is a co-promoter, board member and investor of Lithium.

While Lithium is currently focused on corporate transport in India, Maini expects a future where it could dabble in other mobility areas such as goods transport and “first-mile/last-mile” delivery, and think beyond India.


Reference links and source links:

  1. Company Profile
  2. Sanjay Krishnan
  3. Company Website
  4. The Better India
  5. PluginIndia
  6. LiveMint
  7. Company Profile @ Zauba Corp

 

New Electric Car Not for Sale, Please Subscribe to Drive One

Motion Digest

Europe continues to test the waters of shared vehicle ownership models, and the Amber One is a car designed to help eliminate the huge amount of time our own vehicles currently spend idle. The all-electric concept has a 250-mile range on a single charge, a top speed of over 93 mph, and a 0 to 60 time of a respectable 7 seconds. But you can’t buy one – to gain access, you subscribe to a service at a cost of €33 (around $37 U.S.) per week, which will let you use any available Amber One nearby.

Amber Mobility says the Amber One is also designed to be modular, so that it can be upgraded throughout its life, which should be prolonged because it doesn’t need to be scrapped entirely when new tech or improvements come along. It’s also designed as a connected car from the ground up, with tight integration across software and…

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Very Interesting Concept Vehicle: Spiri v0.1

Driving to the Future

spiri_prototype_frontDanish start-up Spiri has produced a “lab on wheels” purpose-designed prototype EV for its on-demand car-sharing/car-pooling service: this ultra-light (750kg) carbonfibre urban runaround has no interior panels, no paint, and around a quarter of the components (700) of a conventional passenger car, reports TechCrunch, helping it to a claimed 200-mile range between recharges. Most impressively, Spiri is aiming for passenger journey pricing on a par with bus tickets in the selected cities it aims to launch in – and free travel for drivers who pick up passengers along their way, in a neat twist/extension to the usual on-demand offering. The system is based around ‘virtual bus stops’ and pick-up points, with ‘Spiri hubs’ for parking and recharging. Design-wise, it’s an interesting thing with closely-placed front wheels (Spiri also experimented with a three-wheel layout, it appears) for a max-capacity interior, seating four plus luggage with wide-opening doors for easy access.

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