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Yulu- A Mobility Startup Plans to Multi-fold its Battery Swapping Business

Sensors for a machine are like the body's sense organs - they transmit information about the environment and state of the body.

Naveen-DachuriThe brand name ‘Yulu’ is revolutionizing the cities of tomorrow by driving inclusive, equitable, and sustainable mobility to the masses. It is a technology-driven mobility platform that enables Integrated Urban Mobility across public and private modes of transport. Using Micro Mobility Vehicles (MMVs) through a user-friendly mobile app, Yulu enables first and last-mile connectivity that is seamless, shared, and sustainable. Guided by three principles of Accessibility, Availability, and Affordability, Yulu provides first and last-mile connectivity to commuters and also enables short-mile delivery of goods with its Urban mobility-as-a-service (UMaaS) platform. Presently, this seamless, shared, and sustainable mobility service is available in Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, and Mumbai. During a chat with Nitisha from BISinfotech; Naveen Dachuri, CTO, Yulu emphasises the government policies and the growth of shared mobility in India.

How proper policies initiated by the Government can enhance the companies to pursue themselves in technology when it comes to shared-mobility?

Shared mobility works on the backbone of technology. It uses economical 2G technology to connect the user, the vehicle and the ecosystem in real-time. However, as most service providers upgrade their infra to 4G/ 5G, shared vehicles could be forced to come on a 4G/ 5G spectrum, which is overkill for their data transmission requirements. This will result in increased cost of operations as well as add to the drain of precious battery charge.  For Shared Mobility’s success at scale, affordability is a key factor.  Thus, it is critical that Government policies ensure the availability of a well-maintained 2G infrastructure for shared mobility & similar use-cases. Other place where the Government can help is by removing the restrictions on the number of IPs that can connect to an APN. Current rules are very constricting and allow a very small number that increases server requirement, which in turn increases both, cost & time to market.

How ML and AI make the technology cost-efficient. The concept of IoT and AI has revolutionized making less manual interventions and communication easier by using many devices, sensors, actuators, etc.

Shared mobility is very data-intensive and IOT devices sit at the center of this data universe. IOTs are located in our vehicles as well as battery stations. These devices collate device information using various sensors and transmit to the central servers. This constant exchange of information guides internal systems and algorithms to make decisions that optimise user experience as well as asset usage. Data helps in the prediction of demand, its fulfilment & vehicle safety – and the more usage data is collected the more robust and accurate our data models can be. With a fleet of close to 10000 EVs and hundreds of charging devices that enable thousands of daily trips, you can imagine the scale of data that flows in every single minute. To manually process this huge influx of data is impossible and using Machine Learning and AI is not a choice, it’s a necessity, a way of life. And investment in these capabilities is what prepares you for scale, and overtime the cost of investment in these capabilities more than recovers itself.

How the work is in progress for the vision is to embed many sensors and monitoring systems for improving the rider experience. (Yulu’s constant effort on working towards raise of IoT which is customer friendly and build robust charging systems)?

Sensors for a machine are like the body’s sense organs – they transmit information about the environment and state of the body. While the human body has only 5 sense organs, each organ is a very complex system with tremendous capabilities that has evolved over thousands of years. Machines are similarly on an evolution curve. Greater the volumes, accuracy & speed of signals – better the decision making can be. More scenarios that we can capture, the better we can build automated capabilities to handle them. For example, sensor data helps us understand vehicle state, its usage, its safety & preventive maintenance. At some point though, optimisation principles also kick in, where one needs to balance the utility of information with the system and processing load it will translate into, and not to forget the cost implications. So, this triangle is always in a dynamic equilibrium, where one or the other node is constantly pushing the equilibrium to a higher level.

How connectivity issues via Bluetooth is being tackled where the vehicle device and customer device are connected for better connectivity and customer experience?

When it comes to bike and server communication, there are 2 options for connectivity – one is to connect using the customer mobile through Bluetooth and the other is to connect using EV’s IOT device. While starting and ending the ride, we prefer to route the connection through the customer’s Bluetooth because it ensures a consistent user experience. Only when the user is connected to the internet, will they be able to lock and unlock the bike. This is needed because customers rely on their mobile app for information about their ride and so lock/ unlock info needs to reflect on the app in real-time.

Kindly focus on futuristic approach towards technological factors advancements of gathering information from a vehicle to cloud.

Cloud technology is consistently upgrading to allow for higher processing power, cheaper storage, ability to handle higher velocity & volume of data. This upgradation is helping businesses to scale up with a reduced time to market – while also reducing the capital expenditure needed to set up expensive IT infrastructure. As devices become more sophisticated, we also see an era of edge computing slowly making inroads. For example, in some use-cases like user or vehicle safety, speed of decisions could matter significantly, where edge computing has an advantage.

Kindly share your view on the government’s battery swapping policy.

It’s good to see the Budget including EV-related announcements and clearly showcases Government’s intent & focus towards the sector. As you would know, Yulu already operates India’s largest vertically-integrated EV battery swapping network – the YMax Network & has plans to scale it multi-fold in 2022. We would love to partner with the Government in policy framing regarding battery swapping and battery interoperability to ensure its forward-looking & works for the industry as a whole.

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Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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