This article originally appeared on The Edge Malaysia Special Report – The Rise of a Global Tech Hub, dated 5th October 2020.
Restrictions on movement implemented by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the first quarter of this year saw increased participation in the country’s mobility value chain, says Datuk Madani Sahari, CEO of the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).
This was evident in a sector defined by MARii as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), which encompasses fast, affordable, on-demand and customisable mobility services. Popular MaaS-based businesses include food deliver services such as Grab Malaysia (which is also a dominant player in the e-hailing market) and Foodpanda Malaysia.
“These businesses operate on-the-cloud and utilise digital technologies to operate during the Movement Control Order period. This way, they continue operations and adhere to safety measures outlined by the Ministry of Health,” says Madani.
The global mobility market is trending towards digital technologies and shared mobility as well as autonomous driving, he adds.
These are elements of Smart Mobility, one of the three pillars identified that will drive national aspirations of transforming Cyberjaya – the country’s technological hub – into a global tech hub. The other two pillars are Smart Healthcare and Digital Creative.
MARii is based in Cyberjaya and its partnership with Cyberview Sdn Bhd is in tandem with the government’s aspirations for Cyberjaya and in line with the National Automotive Policy (NAP 2020), launched last February. As an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), MARii looks to enhance technology, human capital, supply chain, after-sales capabilities and market outreach in the automotive industry through the use of digital and connected technologies.
To create a collaboration model that suits stakeholders and ecosystems in the automotive industry, MARii is overseeing the development of Next Generation Vehicles (NxGVs), Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) as well as MaaS.
NAP 2020 aims to provide a clear vision of driving the country’s automotive industry to the next level. According to Madani, the automotive industry as a whole – including MaaS – could contribute up to 10% of Malaysia’s GDP by 2030.
“To develop a talent pool for IR4.0, MARii is collaborating with our partners to develop capacity-building programmes, turnkey projects and facilities that focus on NxGVs, MaaS and IR4.0. Last year, our initiatives created 65,388 jobs in the automotive sector,” says Madani.
In early July, MARii signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) to create employment and reskill 1,000 displaced talents affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This MoU combines MARii’s expertise in talent development and Perodua’s vast network to create new job opportunities in the automotive and mobility sector. This collaboration also aims to reskill those who have lost their jobs and prepare them for new employment opportunities.
To accelerate the progress of the autonomous driving sector, MARii has started development of critical automotive components for NxGVs. An NxGV is classified as a vehicle that meets the specifications of an energy-efficient vehicle enhanced with intelligent mobility applications with a minimum Level 3 vehicle automation or “conditional automation”.
Level 3 vehicle automation occurs when driving tasks are automated by systems in the car. However, the driver must be able to react promptly when alerted.
In June, MARii announced an MoU with Multi-Code Electronics Industries (M) Bhd to jointly develop components needed for autonomous driving and connected mobility. “The development of such components is crucial and strategic for the local automotive industry. These components include vehicle-to-vehicle communications, smart sensors and autonomous technology, and can be used in cross-industrial applications,” says Madani.
MARii is currently developing an Electric Vehicle Interoperability Centre (EVIC) in Cyberjaya to house facilities such as charging stations, smart grid integration solutions and various other infrastructure to accommodate the research and development of electric vehicles (EVs) and EV-related products and systems. Advanced technologies such as cybersecurity, big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and communications systems in an EV ecosystem can also be tested in the EVIC.
Madani says an Autonomous Vehicle Test Bed (AVTB) in Cyberjaya is in the pipeline and will enable businesses in the mobility ecosystem to collectively design and validate their products in a single location.
“The EVIC and AVTB are part of the Automated, Autonomous and Connected Vehicle (AACV) test bed in Cyberjaya. Besides the EVIC and AVTB, this test bed also includes an emission testing centre for motorcycles as well as various state-of-the-art facilities that utilise data-driven IR4.0 technologies that enable real-time reporting and accurate decision-making,” he says.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).