The megacity of Mumbai may be woefully lacking quality infrastructure to live and travel for its people, but the aspirations of authorities to create next generation infrastructure and technology are sky high - which range from creating artificial intelligence clusters to Hyperloop mode of transport. A technology which is still at concept level and has not been experimented anywhere in the world.
In a recent tour to the Middle East, Canada and the US to attract foreign investments into Maharashtra, the State Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and team inked a few deals that involve high level of next generation technologies.
One among them was meeting with Rob Lloyd, CEO and Board Member of Virgin Hyperloop One. In February 2018, the Maharashtra Government had signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Richard Branson-led Virgin Group to build the Mumbai-Pune hyperloop. Post MoU, so far, Virgin Hyperloop One has completed the pre-feasibility study for Mumbai-Pune route and the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority has identified land for laying a 15 kilometer demonstration track. It will be made with 70 per cent of materials and components sourced from Maharashtra. Plans are to fast track the project to be operational by 2024.
Hyperloop, a conceptual futuristic transportation system, with passenger pods travelling through tubes at speeds faster than that of aeroplanes, is still in an early stage of development. So far, the fastest prototype pod has travelled only up to a speed of 240 miles per hour, in December last year, at a test run conducted by Virgin Hyperloop One at its demonstration track at Nevada desert in the US. Even Virgin Hyperloop One's plans are to begin testing full-sized Hyperloop systems by 2021. Elon Musk's Boring Company and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies are two other companies carrying out a feasibility study to start hyperloop systems. Experts say hyperloop may be a commercial reality by 2030 and it may cost about $121 million for a mile.
The CM also met Safra Catz, CEO of Oracle and signed MoUs to start advanced data centres in Mumbai for deploying artificial intelligence on government data to build a common data backbone for government. Once active, this will enable citizens to access all information at one place, which also means that they will not require going to different departments for same information. He also met Greg Clark, CEO of Symantec and signed a MoU for cyber security that will enable the government to create a mechanism for effective cyber policing.
In technology, one MoU was with the Network for Global Innovation (NGIN) to develop a clean tech incubator ecosystem in Maharashtra to accelerate adoption of sustainable technologies and encourage growth of trade and investment of these technologies to develop a "High Performance Innovation Ecosystem". With the Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology), the state government will do a new pilot research project to understand the consumer dynamics and consumers responsiveness to adoption of new technologies in the electricity sector in Maharashtra.
Earlier, IVADO and Next AI, two artificial intelligence accelerator firms in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province in eastern Canada, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (moU) with the Government of Maharashtra to set up AI clusters in the state.