India is uniquely placed to leapfrog several generations of technologies in mobility and fast-emerging sectors such as unmanned aerial vehicles, experts said, opening up job and entrepreneurial opportunities that did not exist a decade ago.
The country’s large and unique market conditions, and pool of skilled technology talent would drive these shifts, according to Bhavish Aggarwal, cofounder and chairman of ride hailing platform Ola Group and Amit Ganjoo, founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies, a maker of cloud and software products for the drone industry.
In a conversation with Bennett University professor and dean of students’ welfare, Milind Padalkar, they added that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated some of these shifts.
“India is also a tough market to win and compete in because cost structures are very important, and consumers expect high standards. So, if you are delivering in India, you can also deliver globally,” Aggarwal said, addressing students as part of Bennett University’s Freshers Welcome Week 2020 event hosted on Monday.
Bennett University is part of The Times of India Group that also publishes The Economic Times.
Giving instances of advances in technology, Aggarwal said mobility was undergoing a transformation from mass car ownership to vehicles as a service, from gas to electric vehicles, and to building autonomous vehicles to work both on land and on air.
According to him, the kinds of products and services that India will demand from mobility businesses in the next 20-30 years will completely change. Indian companies have a deep opportunity to not just build these services for India, but for the world, he said.
Bhavish Aggarwal (L) and Amit Ganjoo (R)
“Leveraging India as a large market, the entrepreneurial spirit and depth of engineering talent, we can actually create global solutions,” Aggarwal said.
With an emphasis on safety, the mobility needs of India and the world will shift to safer public transportation, and an increased reliance on personal mobility, a shift that will take 3-5 years to play out given how entrenched these systems are in modern society. Aggarwal also said that many of these shifts are being driven by the youth, who do not want to pollute the environment by buying gas-guzzling cars and will opt for zero-emission electric vehicles.
Ganjoo concurred with Aggarwal’s view that India’s youth today have opportunities locally that did not exist when he was a student, and advised Bennett University’s latest batch to develop cross-domain knowledge, without having to be experts in a single field but kn owing the abasics of all new technologies.
“The work we’re doing at ANRA, we have to use a combination of disciplines, whether it’s software, aerospace, mechanical engineering and everything put together to come up with solutions. Equating that to you at college, I’d strongly advise you to pick or take courses from different disciplines, I’d strongly encourage that,” Ganjoo said.
He added that autonomous taxis did not have to exist just on the ground, but were going to become a reality in the skies.
While cargo transportation using aerial drones would come first, as it already has in some African countries, people transportation will be next, alongside several other use cases like package deliveries, power line inspection, and even to fight back locust attacks using drones, which India has already started doing.
“I fully agree with Bhavish, that with the talent that we have, it’s very easy for India to catch up and leapfrog (technologies). We’re going to have multi-modal autonomy,” Ganjoo added.