Sharad Agarwal


The Shift to Electric Shared Autonomous Mobility

  • 00days
  • 00hours
  • 00mins
  • 00secs

PowerTalk Preview

The Shift to Electric Shared Autonomous Mobility

PowerTalk Summary

The Shift to Electric Shared Autonomous Mobility

Sharad Agarwal, the senior vice president of EasyMile, speaks to Energy.Media about his hopes for electric shared autonomous mobility – that is, for a future in which the transportation sector is no longer dominated by individually owned and operated vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, but by fleets of self-driving electric cars, trucks, and buses.

In this episode, Sharad makes the case for a new approach to transportation and talks about what kind of infrastructure investments are needed to support his vision of electric shared autonomous mobility:

  • The transportation sector is already undergoing disruption in at least two directions. First, electric cars are gaining in popularity. Second, self-driving vehicles are becoming increasingly capable.
  • Synergy between these two types of disruption could lead to the emergence of new transportation paradigms, in which individuals use ride-sharing arrangements to gain access to fleets of self-driving cars and buses that can move them from place to place and businesses use autonomous forklifts, trucks, and other vehicles to move goods from factories to warehouses and stores. All of these vehicles would be electrically powered (and therefore less polluting) and outfitted with connected sensors (and therefore capable of using digital technologies to optimize scheduling and routing).
  • We’ll need more electricity to support all these autonomous electric vehicles, and we’ll have to think about where to build charging points to support the large fleets of vehicles needed to sustain large-scale ride-sharing and commercial trucking arrangements.
  • Building more charging points in urban locations, as the Biden administration wants to do, is a good start. But in the long term, we may need to establish large-scale charging and storage facilities outside heavily populated areas that can give autonomous electric vehicles places to charge up and remain in place until they’re needed again. Airports and factories may be good places to establish such facilities.

Hi, I’m Sharad Agarwal, Senior Vice President at EasyMile I’ve been in the transportation sector for the last 15 years across all numerous different areas in mobility. EasyMile is probably is one of the leading companies in driverless autonomous technology, we have two major pillars that we are focusing on the first being material handling, or really interested in bringing to life, the actual autonomous movements of big vehicles and small vehicles on material handling yards. The second one is mobility, which is really moving large groups of people in small distances and large density areas. One of the things interesting about email is that we’re very focused on technology to become driverless when it’s under 20 miles an hour, which is a little bit different than what we’re seeing across the world. But we’re very focused on bringing low speed mobility in full autonomy to there. Well, what’s interesting about the life right now is that there are three major disruptions happening on mobility. The first one is electrification, they’re really going to see a major shift with all vehicle types, whether it’s personal car ownership or fleets moving towards electrification in the next few years. And that’s really being supported by a lot of federal dollars and federal initiatives, not only in the US, but all over the world to really push electrification in mobility, starting with car ownership, but also into all types of fleet. And that really helps to brought to increase the capital to get out there to buy not only the vehicles, but also setting up some of the infrastructure like like chargers that are required. So one of the major impacts that we see right now is, is electrification. The second really big impact that we’re going to see in mobility in the next couple years, or already have started to see is really an increasing in shared mobility. Now, I talked about shared mobility, that’s not only just ride sharing, and ride hailing, which is usually the first thing I think everybody thinks about. But that also means more public transit ridership, because that’s been maybe the more historic, shared mobility that’s been out there. But there’s a huge increase towards public transit ridership. But also even car sharing scooters, those types of things are also shared mobility, where you’re, you’re sharing an asset to move around. And so that’s going to be another really big impact on the future. And in most of these modes are all electric. And so you’re seeing a big shift in those, each of these modes moving towards electric towards shared mobility, but also being electric shared mobility. And the third one, which is gets probably the most press is really autonomy, autonomy is coming, it is going to happen, I think it’s very likely that there’s going to be an impact, it can be a huge impact to society. But this is something that is definitely coming. And right now everything in the autonomous space is electric. And so you’re seeing this shift towards the energy sector and on the electric side. What’s interesting about this one is that we don’t really know the impact one way or the other on energy, I think it’s definitely there’s going to be a shift to electric but there’s going to be additional power required to to have the vehicles operate with the sensors, the cameras and the computers, there’s also potential for maybe reduced drag, because the sensors are not flush against these aerodynamic design cars. So there could be it’s kind of an open question, maybe at this point of how autonomy is going to impact the increase, how is he going to increase the use of energy or decrease? The one thing we do know that it is going to be electric future? autonomy, what I think is the kind of curious thing about these three different major disruptions happening on on mobility is that they are going to converge. And so ultimately, we’re going to end up in a world with electric shared autonomous mobility.

And so each of these three areas that are being more or less important in parallel right now and a little bit of overlap, they’re going to ultimately end up overlapping. And we’re gonna see that in reality, you’re gonna have this completely this electric, autonomous shared mobility ecosystem, to figure out what what the what the world is going to be moving towards. So I think when you’re looking at the energy sector, it says, okay, we know this is the future of what the mobility is going to look like. And consumption of fuel right now is primarily in this mobility sector. It’s really understanding, like, what should we be thinking about from, from an energy perspective and where to make the investments. And so I don’t think it’s the same as today. Because when you have an electric autonomous, shared mobility is not the same as people having gas car ownership and how they move and when they move, and where they move. So I think it’s important to start thinking about that. And, to me, there’s really three areas where that impact is important. So the first one really is going to be as a mentioned little bit is what’s the use case usage of energy gonna be, you definitely have an increasing population, for the most part across the world, and especially in the US, you also and that’s based both on people living longer, but also the birth rates that are are increasing. So you’re going to have a larger population one way or the other. So that should impact what’s happening with the amount of energy required. And but then also, you might see that there’s a lot more movements with the elderly population or for those that are not generally very mobile. If you have an autonomous service that could really increase the amount of movements that are happening. So even though we might be more of an electric sector and the idea of shared mobility, there might just be a lot more movements. And so there’s a big open question to really understand is like, what do we see the movements and look like? Does that really create more or less energy. So that’s one of them key areas to be thinking about in the sector. And the second one, which is really important is the infrastructure location, we, we clearly know that there’s a big infrastructure change that’s going to be required. And right now, that’s really putting chargers in the system. I know the Biden administration has announced like a half a million chargers to be put in all across the country. There’s a lot of other grants and initiatives. But the question is that today, we’re driving our cars and we need the convenience of a chargers if we’re driving cross country, or if we’re going to our office or in dense downtown areas. However, if you get into a an autonomous mobility segment, then maybe the vehicles are not charging in the city because people are taking a shared ride, getting dropped off. And with the kind of a lot of the question marks is maybe they’re charging outside the city? So are you really do you really want to increase your your grid power inside of a city to support electric cars? Do you really want to create charging systems in the middle of town, when in reality, with shared mobility, most likely the charging is going to be done outside the dense areas, in large open spaces, or in areas where the vehicles that don’t need drivers to go, they don’t need the convenience, to charge is to be over in that in that area. And the other part of it to think about is to is is that the type of charging systems today are being built with plugins. So you walk up to the car and you plug it in, because it’s a it’s a manned vehicle. But when it comes to autonomous vehicles, the vehicles charge itself. So you want to have either a wave charging or some kind of wireless charging, so the systems could be very different to what we’re putting in today that maybe even in less than 10 years, you’re going to have to change. So thinking about really how the disruption is going to happen between shared and autonomous mobility is a major impact on infrastructure. Because these aren’t, these aren’t minimal investments, these are billions, trillions of dollars in investments that may have to be replaced in, you know, sub 20 years, which from an infrastructure perspective is quite quite soon. So really thinking about where infrastructure location makes the most sense, I think is another key one. The third one is really regulation. From our perspective, you know, the autonomous technology, not just our company, but most companies in the industry, if they were living in a fully autonomous world or in a fully autonomous city, then the we’d be a lot closer to full autonomy than waiting to try to figure out how to get in between man drivers and man pedestrians.

So to create some kind of certainty, I would see a lot of push in the regulations and maybe get some feedback from cities to say, okay, we are moving to this fully driver free zones in the next 510 years. And then we could really help design some of the first two that I talked about is saying, Okay, well, if we’re definitely moving to an autonomous zone, then we don’t want to be putting necessarily chargers in that area, or around putting infrastructure into that space, not building new roads, because the areas we know that autonomy is going to increase capacity on public roads, because how close they can travel together. So these are all things that if we can really help price regulation, thinking more like at the state and local level, where they’re making their plans for autonomy, that can really help some certainty for the energy sector to know how to build their infrastructure, and develop their the usage in the future. So I feel like that’s another really kind of key thing to be to be focused on is trying to get some more certainty out of the cities on what their autonomous plans are, because that could be a big, big help. So with all that said, I think just from my own opinion, I think about where we could be putting some efforts into now, just knowing that what may not be disrupted in the future with autonomy, and the first one I think of is airports, airports aren’t going anywhere, planes aren’t going anywhere. I think in reality, it’s probably getting increase, it seems to be the worldwide trend that this can be more planes. So all of that land, though, that the airports currently have, which isn’t usually on the outside of town, you have probably a major shift from rental cars not being required, probably more parking not required. So you’re going to have these major open parking lots and major, a lot of space available at the airport, which could be a great place to invest in electric infrastructure now, because that could be not only a charging hub for these autonomous vehicles, but also a place to just have maintenance and repair because there, it’s already landed there and doesn’t have to be reclaimed and most likely owned by the cities to begin with or to be supported. I think another area that can be really helpful is factories. I mentioned earlier, one of our focuses at EasyMile is material handling. But we know that definitely there’s going to be a lot of moving in electric vehicles, whether it’s moving containers, whether it’s trucks on campus, all that kind of thing. And then the factories again have major footprints, if they don’t have employees coming to their locations anymore, because their shared mobility, there could be some opportunities to build charging centers there. They already require a lot of power. So building a grid is already part of that requirement. So I think that the factories industrial areas can be really good places to start building infrastructure that that is not going to be disrupted, we don’t, they’re not going to be going anywhere. So we know in the future, that these, these areas would be the same. So it would be a not not a bad risk to put some money into there. And then I think the last area from the urban density side is that I really believe that like the long distance, sorry, bus depots and train stations, those aren’t going anywhere anyways, with the push towards shared mobility, we’re still gonna have these major hubs of increased bus traffic and train traffic into the different areas. And so those might not be bad areas to continue to invest in also, because in general, those aren’t, those aren’t going anywhere. So overall, that’s my impact. I think my background is in the autonomous side. And I we know that this is a reality that’s happening and focusing really on electric and shared mobility. And it’s just a matter of time when this is going to happen. And I think it’s good to start thinking about it today on how we how we plan across all sectors, but really, really important in the energy side. Thank you.

[wpf tag='Customer']

Past PowerTalks Viewing

[/wpf][wpf not='Customer' logged_out]

Get Access to ALL Powertalks Today!