India: Colleges, major automobile companies experimenting with driverless cars

IIT Hyderabad hopes to launch the indigenously-developed technology on its campus within six months



by

A Staff Reporter

Published: Wed 29 Dec 2021, 4:09 PM

Last updated: Wed 29 Dec 2021, 4:10 PM

India is still a long way from seeing driverless vehicles on its crowded roads, but research institutions and universities and even automobile majors are experimenting with the future mode of transport.

The latest to join the bandwagon is the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, which hopes to launch driverless vehicles on its campus in just six months. “The vehicles are ready,” Prof BS Murthy, director of the institute, told the media on Tuesday. “Before we use them, we want to be fully confident and hence the tests.” The vehicles have been developed indigenously and feature autonomous navigation systems.

While Tesla and Waymo (which began as Google’s self-driving car more than a decade ago) are on the front seat globally in automated driving, Indian companies too are in the race to develop such vehicles. Automobile majors are deploying advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in their vehicles, which might ultimately lead to fully automated cars.

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Leading IT and automobile companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Elxsi, Tech Mahindra, HCL Technologies and Mahindra & Mahindra are investing in new technologies to make such vehicles. Tata Elxsi has been involved with developing the autonomous driving technology for several years now. The company believes that autonomous vehicles can revolutionise sectors such as agriculture, mining and construction in India.

A Tata Elxsi executive told the media recently that the company has developed its own autonomous driving platform, with all the components required for Level 4 driving. It is completely autonomous driving with hands off the wheel. A European automaker has used it for developing its autonomous driving programme, he said.

But a key issue revolves around legislation, which could delay the introduction of such vehicles in India. The country faced a similar problem with drones, but in August, the government notified the Drone Rules and other legislative changes that promise to transform the sector.

Besides IT and automotive players, universities too are getting involved with driverless vehicles. For instance, students at the MIT World Peace University in Pune developed a driverless autonomous electric car using AI. According to Prof Ganesh Kakandikar of the university, the vehicles can be used to connect metro stations and airports with the adjoining areas.


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