Anuj Kapuria with Economic Times

Robots are Going to be Essential Part of Our Everyday Life

The Hi-Tech Robotic Systems Ltd (THRSL), founded in 2004, is India’s pioneering company in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence. The company has successfully developed and commercialized a wide range of robotic products catering to the needs of defence, homeland security and industrial sector. In a chat with ET, Mr Anuj Kapuria, Director & CEO, talks about the company and shares his business outlook. Excerpts:

The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz has been in the news for some time now. How do you plan to grow amid national and international competition?

We have been working hard for the last 11 years to bring next generation technology to the market. Today, we are at the growing peak of technology adoption among various facets of our lives. Hi-Tech’s main focus is to make driverless vehicles for logistics and people transport. Our driverless, autonomous robots are intelligent enough to take decisions on their own. The cloud infrastructure helps them to validate these decisions, if required. There is not even a single company in the world that has systematically and seamlessly made in-roads in both, completely autonomous people and material movement, without manual intervention as we have done. We know where we are heading and what we are doing with great amount of focus. Our tech is strong and cost effective globally and we have protected our research and development with more than 20 patents in robotics and associated technologies, which will enable us to be globally competitive.

The tremendous growth in the field of artificial intelligence is both a challenge and an opportunity. What is your take on it?
Of course, it’s a great opportunity. With the growing capabilities of AI, we can almost re-imagine how everything works. Today, because of the current tech development – robots are a major part of manufacturing of all the cars and semiconductors; robots are responsible for order fulfilment in warehouses for the e-commerce companies. It’s the AI that enables us to run our driverless shuttles on roads, as a public transport. But we need to be more intelligent to use and collect the information for our good and better analytics.

Do you feel robotics will play a vital role and ease the life of a common man in the upcoming years?
Absolutely. It’s the 90’s of the Internet and computers! 15-20 years back nobody had thought that computers will be such a seamless integrated product of our lives. Similarly, robots are going to be advanced intelligent units, which will be an essential part of our everyday life.

In Auto Expo 2016, your unique product ‘Novus Drive’ hogged the lime light and was appreciated by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, Nitin Gadkari. When do you expect driverless vehicles to be on the Indian roads?
We are already connecting with the Smart Cities initiative by the Modi government. The Smart Cities plan looks fantastic and I think public transport can be replaced with driverless shuttles,which ensure zero manual error and are environment-friendly.

Despite being a leader in software solutions, why has India lagged behind in artificial intelligence/robotics?
There is a requirement of huge capital investments in educational institutes to create the R&D environment. There is enough enthusiasm in the current generation. We should provide them adequate facilities and opportunities. We have been hiring people across the country and also abroad, enabling them with industry-led training so that they can work on live and critical projects.

Q. 7 Do you think the decision to leave your doctorate mid away to establish THSRL has been fruitful? Would you like to share the journey so far?
It’s been a terrific journey and as I see things from my side – it was the right thing to do. I started THRSL for a purpose to enable the country to have a company which is tech-strong and much ahead of curve with its global counterparts. We still have long to go to be a global leader, but that day is not far away. India is always known for its IT services business. I want India to be known for the latest Robotics AI business leaders. We started off with DRDOs and Defence as our first customers and then a couple of years back we translated the technology to industrial applications when we started developing autonomous driverless logistic vehicles for the manufacturing industry. Today we have sold more than 200 driverless logistic vehicles and are market leaders for the logistics robots as well. Today we are market leaders (with more than 85% share) in India in the segment of driverless logistic vehicles. We are the first ones to develop the first driverless shuttle and the maximum number of driverless vehicles for people transport as well. Our ambition now is to go global and we are strongly moving ahead on that path because our tech is globally competitive and in some places better than the rest of the world.