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Scientists and researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and IT major Wipro Ltd have joined hands to create an autonomous, driver-less car for Indian conditions that has chaotic conditions including potholes, cattles, ‘dearly’ cows and everything in between. To recall,  in last month Wipro had announced a strategic partnership with IISc to conduct advanced applied research in autonomous systems, robotics and 5G space.

Dr Ramachandra Budihal, Wipro’s head for AI, autonomous systems and robotics, is leading the work to build the car at the IISc campus with a team of 18 engineers.

Key investigators in the initiative, Prof A G Ramakrishnan from the department of electrical engineering at IISc said if we have an autonomous vehicle in India with conditions like– humans, cycles, autos going–it has to take care of all these factors, plus the zero infrastructure, the potholes and the fact that everything is random.

Professors from six IISc departments that includes aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, electrical communication engineering, electronic systems engineering, electronic design and technology, computer science and automation are involved in the project, The Indian Express reported.

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The car being used for data collection in the project

With a plan to have about 28 sensors on the autonomous car, researchers have been using a car equipped with multiple sensors to collect raw data on aspects of navigating the roads in Bengaluru and have selectively picked out around 100 hours of data, out of nearly 1000 hours collected in the last 6 months, to build algorithms and systems for the driverless car.

“We are working on some cutting edge algorithms for Indian conditions. Earlier whatever we worked on was user data from Europe and America but we want to do something for India. We cannot use the systems that we built for the other data sets because the conditions here are unique,” said Dr Ramachandra Budihal.

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With a targeted rollout date of March 2020, the collaboration for driverless car is an extension of a nearly 3-year effort at Wipro to build an autonomous car using data for roads in Europe and the US.

In addition the collaboration is also an effort to take IISc and Wipro to the frontiers of new technology — automation, robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and neuromorphic systems.

According to a year 2017 survey by Intel, Autonomous vehicles will most likely be the single greatest opportunity for the creation of value and wealth during the 21st Century, with the self-driving vehicles industry growing on to become a $7 trillion industry by 2050 making it one of the single largest industry, globally.

Over the past six months, investigators have been using a car equipped with multiple sensors to collect raw data on aspects of navigating the roads in Bengaluru and have culled out around 100 hours of data, out of nearly 1000 hours collected, to build algorithms and systems for the driverless car.

The plan is to have about 28 sensors on the autonomous car, say the scientists.

“The kind of data the sensors gather and the range it captures is unique for the Indian conditions. The rate of change, the number of events that happen per second is far higher than what is needed any where else. The number of events that take place per second is several and the latency from one event to the next is very small so you have to program. Video, radar, sensors are all being used to gather data,’’ Budihal said.

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One of the key challenges in building a driverless car for Indian road conditions is the amount of processing power that will be needed on board the car to process the enormous amount of data coming in from the road environment, say the scientists involved in the project.

“The processing power needed for this data is far in excess of what is seen in more organised environments,’’ said Prof Debasish Ghose of IISc’s aerospace engineering department.

Other Autonomous Car Projects in India

In July 2017, software giant Infosys had unveiled its very own self-driving vehicle, a ‘driverless’ cart, which has been indigenously developed by Infosys at its Mysore centre and was showcased by the-then Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka.

In the same year, Delhi-based defence IoT startup CRON Systems had announced that it is working to develop the prototype of fully-functional driverless truck this year to help Indian army to deal in hostile locations.

In June this year, Indian cab-hailing firm Ola has set up an advance technology center in Silicon Valley of the U.S to develop technologies related to electric/ connected and autonomous vehicles.

Top featured Image  by Aatur Harsh

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