India’s First Smart Electric Scooter Ready to Disrupt the Auto Industry with Gamification
Bengaluru-based Ather Energy has been teasing the S340 – billed as India’s first smart electric scooter – for a while now and many have been waiting for a chance for a test ride. The startup’s first smart electric scooter was unveiled at the Web Summit Surge conference in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
Ather Energy founder co-founder Tarun Mehta spoke about some of the design philosophies behind the scooter, as well as some of the challenges the company faced in cutting down on its cost and weight, and in extending the battery lifecycle.
Billed as a smart scooter, the S340 has GSM and Bluetooth connectivity. The startup has made a decision to move from Android to Linux for the dashboard operating system. While we weren’t shown the dashboard, it would use Google Maps for navigation through the web browser.
Users will be able to track the vehicle using their smartphones, remotely control and monitor the vehicle, enable fast charging by using a a slider on its app. “You could create custom riding profiles from your mobile phone itself, so that when the vehicle starts, on your profile, those settings will already be pre-saved. So you can specify, what kind of acceleration response, top speed you want, and then save them on your profile, and then go to the vehicle, and select your profile again, those are the exact settings you will find.”
Apart from vehicle location tracking, a lot of work has gone into providing vehicle analytics to the rider, on the dashboard and on its app. Users will be able to extrapolate their average driving speed. Mehta says that the team working on the data analytics love building their own profiles on the prototype, to gauge their energy efficiency.
S340 will have remote diagnostics enabled, with sensor data from at least four of its components (battery, motor, charger and the vehicle control unit) so they can inform the rider when a replacement is due. Electric drive trains already have most of those sensors and data logging happening inherently.
The S340 would probably end up covering 65 kilometres in the city on a full charge. With an additional rider on the back, the range would drop by approximately 15 to 20 percent. “If you ride carefully, more like 70-75 kilometres, though 65 is more realistic, even assuming you ride at good speeds and acceleration, with the assumption that the dashboard and headlights are on.
The S340 will be available for trials and pre-orders in about two and a half months, at experience centres owned and operated by the company. “By the end of the year is when we’ll start shipping.
The S340 will first be available in three cities – Bengaluru, Pune and Chennai. The company will have service centres and experience centres operating in these three cities, where people can come and take a test ride.
By the end of 2017 and end 2018 the startup plans to expand in phases, from 10 to 50 cities, after testing the vehicle in these locations. “Over the next three years, we will be in several more cities,”
Weighing in at 85 kilograms, the S340 smart scooter has been designed in-house, and every component (with the exception of the motor) is custom designed by Ather Energy, including the rim and the side-stand. These components needed to be redesigned to be as lightweight as possible.