Friday, 29 March 2019

Young minds key to technology penetration

A wise man once told me that a child’s capacity to learn is only limited by the parents or educators of the child.
Simply put, children are not born knowing what is easy or difficult to learn – social conditioning and upbringing places such barriers on them. A child not knowing that something is difficult would not have the fear of learning something, he or she will just do it.
Of course, it’s not as simplistic as it sounds, they would need to be taught through the methodology based on child pedagogy and sensitivity to their growth.
In households where children live with access to technological advancement, we will often find that after a while, they start teaching their parents how to use technology.
This untethered learning process is not prescribed in most education syllabus, but through interactions with friends, information from the Internet and other non-curricular learning that are experiential.
The point is – our young ones, especially the current generation living in the age of technology and information, derive their passions and interests not only from the school syllabus, but through the opportunities to access the technology and information given to them.
While a school or university student spends between five to eight hours a day in a classroom environment, an even bigger portion of their learning experience comes from interactions outside the classroom.
Today, this “out-of-class” environment is packed with more information than ever before. While my generation walked to libraries for information, this generation has the world’s libraries at the tips of its fingers.
With that said, there is an important challenge that needs to be addressed – while a lot of information is available on the internet, not all learning can be facilitated by simply downloading an app. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is one that will focus on cyber-physical systems.
This means that while the issue of technological awareness may be subdued with greater broadband coverage, access to the physical elements that complete the future-proof circle is subjected to the same problems of yesteryear.
It is clear that the high demands for cyber-physical equipment such as robotics, mobility applications, autonomous vehicle technology will present itself in the next decade or so.
The access to the physical part of the Industry 4.0 equation lies in the access to robotics applications, such as single-board microcontrollers, to build digital devices and interactive objects such as basic robots and other such apparatus.
To initiate such as project, Malaysia Automotive, Robotics And IoT Institute (MARii) will be organizing the MARii Activity Arena at this year’s Malaysia Autoshow 2019 in Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang. This 1,200 sq m arena will host a three day robot combat competition, autonomous vehicle challenge as well as maker and builder classes in applications such as Raspberry Pi, Micro Bit and Arduino.
Visitors, in particular the youth, will compete in various robotics segments, while visitors to the show will also be able to participate and build their own robots and other smart applications, with experienced coaches and trainers providing hands-on guidance on their projects.
I am also happy to announce that this Activity Arena will be organized by our friends from Kinabalu Coders, a community driven technology team based in Sabah. This not only signifies a strong showing of the people of Sabah at this year’s Autoshow, but also highlights the capabilities of Sabah in participating in Malaysia’s future mobility industry.
MARii’s investment at the autoshow will also pave the way for more technical and vocational education and training-based robotics and coding programmes to be held throughout the annual calendar, allowing access to more of Malaysia’s youth to experience and learn the fundamentals of cyber-physical systems.
This investment, which is still small in my humble opinion, is not only an investment in robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) education.
It is an investment in Malaysia’s future. The high demand for robotics and IoT applications will surely be part of our industrialization process. It only makes sense that we invest in the segment that will lead such a future – we must invest in our children today.
The writer is the chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Technologies and innovation in urban mobility

Just this week, Britain’s Department for Transport published its Future of Mobility Urban Strategy, detailing out the government’s principles in approaching the numerous emerging transportation technologies and facilitating innovation in urban mobility.
The announcement paves the way for the required regulatory framework and strategic roadmaps that include new technologies, business models, talent requirements and vehicular modes of the future – which include vehicle types that were previously not part of the transport legal framework such as electric scooters.
The emerging trends and technologies in today’s transportation must be analysed and responded to by all countries in order for them to remain competitive.
In a nutshell, the future of mobility requires strategies in technology development (or adoption), legal framework, business development, talent pool establishment and infrastructure planning in the areas of electrification, shared mobility services and vehicle autonomy.
While electrification of transportation is a potential solution to fossil fuel dependence, it is important to stimulate public demand, primarily on the awareness of fuel limitations, environmental preservation as well as the overcoming of range anxiety. However, from a governance standpoint, it is also important to manage the infrastructure and power grid requirements for meaningful electrification to take place.
Autonomous driving has a different set of challenges. While traditional products may proceed through the industrial revolution, seen through advanced robotics, big data management, additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 related technologies – product design and business models have to change to include a higher degree of advanced electronics, sensory and connectivity.
This means that design efforts for traditional vehicle manufacturing – powertrains, safety and comfort equipment, body and painting, etc – become only half of the process, as the connectivity and intelligence of not only the vehicle but also the environment and infrastructure that surrounds it must undergo major rethinking in order to have the necessary ecosystem to propel the transportation economy into the future marketplace.
Fortunately, Malaysia’s participation in the shared mobility economy has taken strides equal to trends around the globe – thanks mostly to growth in the country’s information technology sector as well as public participation and demand.
While some popular ride-hailing apps can trace its roots in Malaysia, the Malaysian public has also shaped the demand for disruptive technologies in this area.
While legal frameworks are currently evolving to meet new public transportation challenges, it still remains a classic case on how public demand can incentivise the change at the upstream level as well as business cases that must cater to them.
Therefore, the major challenge for the meaningful inclusion in future mobility is the significant transformation of the entire value chain – more importantly, the precise management of consumer demand.
While governance and business models are constantly being transformed to cater to the demands, efforts that spur public demand in the areas above cannot be undermined.
It is for this very reason the Malaysia Autoshow continues its tradition of a mobility display at the show, breaking away from the tradition of a pure vehicle showcase seen in motoring shows around the world.
While there will be a strong showing of latest vehicles from the world’s brands, the MARii (Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute) Mobility Hall will narrate the entire value chain of the automotive and mobility sector from upstream to downstream.
Visitors will catch a glimpse of the latest technologies and understand what boils underneath the industry in vehicle design, manufacturing and after-sales operations – most importantly the efforts and mindset of the people behind them.
From a business standpoint, it is important to know market demands and respond to them.
However, part of the government’s business is to assist the industry in creating market demands to allow businesses to thrive, and create the necessary jobs to further spur the economy.
For this reason, the Malaysia Autoshow is an important agenda for both the government and the industry.

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Peek into future of transportation

Next month, the Malaysia Autoshow will open its gates for the fifth time at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS).
The 2019 edition, themed “Mobility for All”, will continue to showcase products of the Malaysian automotive industry in Malaysia and the region, with an increasing focus on Malaysia’s vision towards connected mobility.
More than 200 exhibitors will feature the latest products and services in a culmination of elements that would provide Malaysians a glimpse into the future trends of transportation and mobility, as well the adoption of advanced designs, manufacturing and connectivity, in line with MARii’s rebranding as the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute.
The car show will continue to offer a 3km test track for visitors to sample the latest models and variants.
This unique track will provide a proper avenue to test full features of a vehicle and experience first-hand handling, ride and comfort of the vehicles.
The show will feature numerous outdoor activities, such as a four-by-four off-road experience, go karting, gymkhana, drifting and fun-filled family activities.
For the first time, it will introduce the International Auto Modified (IAM), a regional touring event for automotive lifestyle that showcases creativity and innovation of car modifiers from Malaysia and the region.
The car enthusiasts will display more than 100 cars that have been personalised.
The MARii Mobility Hall will provide a new experience for visitors – a fully immersive walk-through of the automotive industry–from its upstream activities at the design and development stages of a vehicle and components to technologies available in the after-sales sector to ensure the life cycle of the vehicle remains safe and roadworthy.
This renewed approach allows visitors to see, touch and experience the entire automotive and mobility value chain in action, allowing a deeper appreciation of skills, talents and technologies that surround the industry, including its visions and ambitions for connected mobility in the future of Malaysia’s industrialisation drive.
The end of the walk-through will tease the imagination of visitors of the future, as they experience possibilities of connected mobility.
At the same time, visitors can expect to access new activities in the fields of robotics and Internet of Things.
The car show is expected to feature robotics, coding and Raspberry Pi classes for young visitors and a robot challenge featuring top robotics makers.
The Malaysia Autoshow 2019 continues to be the epicentre of public participation in the development of the Malaysian automotive industry towards global competitiveness.
As we draw closer to the fifth edition of the show, I believe the maturity of the annual calendar event will bring us closer to our goals.
The Malaysia Autoshow 2019 will not just be a show by MARii or the government but also a show of individuals and companies that constitute the industry makeup – the prime movers of technology, the commitment and drive of those who dare to dream of an advanced, industrialised Malaysia.

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii)

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Value of pragmatism to economic sustainability

It is easy for us to feel overwhelmed in a fast-changing world, where the deployment of economic solutions may not always keep up with new economic problems.
This is especially true for Malaysia, in which economically, we have built strong foundations that have raised us out of basic commodity dependence to emerge as a robust manufacturing and services hub.
All that is left for us to join the ranks of advanced nations around the world is that one missing link in the chain that will propel us forward.
A previous article in this column discussed the governance models in South Korea, seen particularly in their industrial development.
To develop rapidly, it was important for the then war-recovering nation to take pragmatic steps in ensuring that a conducive economic ecosystem was established, while keeping the citizenry above an income line that spurred growth.
Similar models were seen in China – the drive to develop a sizeable middle class population has also brought massive rewards and paved the way for its dominance in the world economy.
At the very core of the examples above are a world view and governance model that places a premium on pragmatism, efficiency and strategic planning – ingredients that create an economic ecosystem with ample space for creativity, innovation and industriousness throughout the business, academic and government sectors.
A note of caution – pragmatism in this sense does not equate to cutting corners or the lowering of standards. It is a systematic way of thinking that requires holistic considerations of the factors that conform not only to standards and theories but also the patience and sensitivities to realities on the ground.
It means that development strategies must take into account issues such as economic levels, human capital capacities, financial projections, technology penetration and other socio-economic factors when formulating policies, budgets and frameworks on economic development.
They also include decisions that are based on accurate information, rather than assertions and assumptions. The quality of information, now available through technological breakthroughs in big data management and analytics, render any excuse about such assertions obsolete.
Economic transformations certainly are not overnight tasks – it is not only the government’s burden, but also for the populace to participate and implement, as good policies depend on the implementation that creates access to the necessary job and business opportunities.
Therefore, it becomes important for all stakeholders, be it the authority or the public themselves to place our society constantly well-informed so that no opportunities are under-utilised or even worse, neglected, due to a lack of information.
While creativity, innovation and design thinking require space and time, the pragmatic approach in viewing progress lies in information speed and work efficiency, especially in administrative functions to govern the aforementioned creative aspects of our work.
In times of technological advancement – something this column has also discussed extensively – it is incumbent on all to ensure that we engineer a paradigm shift towards creating true value within ourselves, and not remain a backbencher to progress, making policymakers the victim of blame when progress does not reach us.
To move forward, it is upon us to set our own destiny as well as write our own history on our own terms.
To do that, we should be governed by our ambitions and passions – to be pragmatic and patient – in the exercise of maximising our potential.
In conclusion, we must be pragmatic in our strategic planning, we should be patient in developing creativity and innovation and most of all, work in unity towards social and economic development.

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii)