Vivek Devaraj is an open and enthusiastic engineer interested in automotive technologies, product sourcing and development. His goal is to become a holistic product developer integrating technology, user experience and business. Has experience working with mechanical systems, hardware to software in companies like Renault Nissan, DAF Trucks NV. He loves working with kids and sharing his experience as an Automobile Engineer. Currently, he is the founder and CEO – OverSquare Automotive spreading his experience to aspiring Engineers.


The following discussion took place at our Kids Ask Tech telegram group. It’s recorded here for posterity.

Discussion

63 Comments
    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      Hello, Karthikeyan and my dear little friends!

      Self-driving vehicles are great for mobility. It totally opens up a new stream of mobility innovation and not limited to how cars are designed and built. It will make the mobility market more digital like the Music industry when iPod came into the market.

      When it comes to the Indian market, self-driving will be quite challenging. It is mainly because of how our traffic system is built. It is more intuition-based rather than rule-based. So, we will have to see how it will shape up.

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      I have a radical opinion that flying cars or underground roads (Elon Musk Boring Company, for example)or other radical mobility solutions might fit our context than AI based self-driving cars πŸ˜‰

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      One big difference between the developed countries and our country is the way we have built our city itself. The roads there are built specially for movement and not as the main artery for shopping and residential buildings. That way, it is easy to have sorted transportation.

  • Venkat

    I have a question: in what ways will electric cars be different from the ones we have now? Also: when can we expect fully electric cars as majority?

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      For the sake of convenience, I will use the term BEV (Battery electric vehicle)to refer to Electric car that we popularly know of. Some BEVs like the Mahindra e-Verito are mainly just a swap job. In such cars, only the powerplant is replaced and the rest of the car remains same. But in cars like the Tesla models (S, X, 3 and new Roadster) it is built all the way from scratch to suit the new electric powerplant.

      So, the automotive industry is split on the approach it takes. But however, most companies have realised it is better to build cars the Tesla way. That is building an all-new car.

      On when can we expect is really a million dollar question. It involves when the government wants to push with tighter regulations. Most companies have the tech. Only the infrastructure part and electricity generation part is catching up. By 2020 we will see some models in the showroom already. But may be by 2025, we will see some serious amount of EVs on road.

        • Vivek Devaraj
          Vivek Devaraj

          Certainly. The good news is we have enough firepower to do that in India. We are already scaling up Solar and Wind power. But what is not ready is “Grid Capacity”. Think of what happens when most of the BEVs, connect to their chargers at home after 18:00 in the evening. That will be the big problem.

            • Vivek Devaraj
              Vivek Devaraj

              Charging at Work or Charging on the roads. The second solution is very similar to trains and trams. But in future, we can actually build the grid below the road. And use wireless charging. This way, cars can also weigh less since the battery can be smaller.

                • Vivek Devaraj
                  Vivek Devaraj

                  Yes, but it is only an intermediate solution. The ultimate mobility solution in my view is personalized public transportation. Electric cars are only a small step in one direction i.e greenhouse emission. There are bigger problems of resource depletion, traffic and carbon footprint that will actually take a step back.

                  Think about this fact, an average car weighs 900 kg and on average one person of 80 kg uses it for 60% of its lifetime. So, to carry 80 kg of humanity we transform 800 kg of Earth!

  • Mango Education

    You have worked with endurance cars that are fully electric. Can you tell a little about your work in that domain? Also, what is something that most people don’t know about endurance racing?

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      Sure. I am specialized in enabling the interaction between the car and the rider (used to be driver :p) in an efficient way. So, there is a huge scope for developing new ideas to solve the problem in racing. Since the whole electric endurance racing was a novel concept, I had the freedom to conceptualise radical cockpit systems to suit the “halo” factor.

      I think most people don’t even know about such a series at all! It is about being on the edge for both the driver and the car for hours together. Driving a thousand kilometres in Endurance racing will equal lakhs and lakhs of kilometres driven on the road.

  • Avatar
    Anisha Yunus

    Good evening sir I wonder how much patience you had while making the car and how much electricity is needed to make the car and I have never seen an electrical car. Please send me a photo of the car. Thank you.

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      I assume you mean racing cars. Advantages: 1. Instant acceleration, that is very less 0 to 60 kmph 2. Less moving parts. No gearboxes, clutches, and shafts that transfer motion from powerplant to wheels.3.No localised pollution Disadvantage: 1. The total range a car can do before charging again. 2.Heavier than similar fuel car. 3. Needs complex electronics and software to manage the whole car.

  • Avatar
    Mithun Mohan

    And another: is it really worth to burn more than 60kgs of fuel in F1 races? BTW the race car is 😍😍😍

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      That depends on the weight of the car and speed. But if we compare with fossil fuel cars, they are only 35% efficient but an electric car could easily be 75% efficient. So, in terms of energy you need more energy for fossil fuel car than electric. But the problem is we don’t have a battery lighter enough to even carry that small amount of energy.

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      Technology was always there. In 1900 EVs had as much market share as the fossil fuel cars. So, there isn’t really a big gain apart from a lot of incremental improvements. But some technologies which is bringing EVs back in context is 1. Improved energy density in batteries. That carries more energy in less weight. 2. Electronics to better control and manage Electricity for motors

  • Avatar
    Aditya Radhakrishnan

    I’ve read that a huge portion of the carbon emissions from cars actually comes from the manufacturing of the car. For electric cars, this increases significantly because of the mining and extraction of metals like Lithium for the Lithium-Ion batteries in the car. Are there any ideas/plans to reduce the carbon footprint from manufacturing?

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      Yes, that has to do with totally changing mobility solutions. The best and easiest step is to increase the utilization ratio for a car. As of now, cars are used for less than 25% of their lifetime. Rest of the time, the poor thing is just sleeping over at Parking.

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      I prefer Manual. It is because I like to feel the engine and gear changes rather than any music. πŸ˜€ But the rational choice for a person will be very contextual. If one does driving as a mere chore and in cities, then automatics are the way to go.

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      That is a huge question. I will try my best to give you the bigger picture. Self-driving cars use sensors to understand the environment around them and use their “knowledge” to take decision on their next action. This is provided that you have a car that can be controlled using electronics alone. So, it is a combination of seeing+deciding+acting. In case you need more detailed answers on each part, let me know.

        • Vivek Devaraj
          Vivek Devaraj

          Much more! So, when it comes to sensing part I would classify it in two ways. Local awareness and Global awareness.

          1.Local awareness is achieved by cameras, long and short range sensors mounted on the car.

          2.Global is done via GPS and connecting to the internet.

  • Avatar
    Mithun Mohan

    Are flying cars really an option to travel in and around the earth’s atmosphere? To travel between cities and countries?

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      Of course Mithun! I hope you didn’t mean space travel like Elon Musk proposed. But as long as within atmosphere, it is a big option that we are already exploring via Aircraft, right?

  • Avatar
    Aravindan R

    Hi Vivek, Aravind here. I’ve read the occupancy rate of cars in the US is about 1.5. Majority of cars are running with less than 50% occupancy. Is it technically possible to make 2 seater car that is as safe and efficient as reasonably high end 4 seater cars. If so, why are they not being made? Is it a technology problem or policy / lobbying related.

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      Hello Sir. Yes, that is also the same case everywhere. There are surely no big advantage in having 4 seater or big cars instead of small cars. The primary problem is our mentality, we always want to be carrying that extra space, just in case we need it. There is no tech or regulatory problem with that. In fact some govt. like Japanese and Indian push for smaller cars in size with incentives.

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      Racing is a sport. It pushes humans to their physical and mental limits like any other sport. It is just cooler because it is a synchronized show of man and machine. Combination of mental (engineers) and physical (drivers) super skills. And any learning that helps humans by doing that is an advantage! Categories exist because we as humans are creative and think differently satisfied by different means. So, why just stick to one formula? πŸ˜‰

  • Avatar

    Hello Vivek sir, I have a question. What do you think will become the next best alternative for “fuel” for cars when we run out of our existing fuels?

        • Vivek Devaraj
          Vivek Devaraj

          They are an intermediate step in the journey towards sustainable mobility. But not the ultimate solution. It plays a huge role in tech advancements that will also benefit domestic robots and other support systems.

  • Mango Education

    This has been a very informative session. We hope so! And Vivek! Thanks for your patience and answers. Before we end the session, can you recommend three non-fiction and/or fiction books for the kids?

    • Vivek Devaraj
      Vivek Devaraj

      I am a big fan of Harry Potter when it comes to fiction. It also has a dreamy engineering connect. Non-fiction would be mostly that of David Attenborough. I am currently reading Life on Earth. But I would say, the documentary from BBC would be better to start with. And recently a publication called Down to earth. For racing enthusiasts, I recommend seeing the movie Rush and Hitting the apex. For cars, a documentary “Who killed the electric car?”.

      Thank you everyone and team Mango! I thoroughly enjoyed interacting today. Looking forward to more.

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