Once representative of advanced futuristic technology in science fiction, the self-driving car is no longer just a figment of imagination. With the effort of companies like Tesla Motors, Toyota, Nissan, and Google, driverless cars are being developed and tested for use on actual roads. And India is not far behind.
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur, Kanpur and Mumbai have taken it upon themselves to create India’s first driverless cars.
Google self-driving car; image for representation. Source: Flickr
At IIT Kharagpur, students are presently testing driverless vehicles that have been manufactured entirely in the premises of the institute. Similar plans are also being developed in IIT Kanpur and students in IIT Bombay are also engaged in testing for a model developed by them.
Debashish Chakravarty, head of the autonomous ground vehicle (AGV) project at IIT Kharagpur, told Economic Times that the technology being developed at IIT keeps the Indian market in mind, setting it apart from the bigger conglomerates that are testing their cars in the Western market.
Ankit Sharma who leads the team at IIT Bombay says, “This car is built from scratch at the institute with only sensors being outsourced. The algorithm or the brain of the car is being developed by us.”
To aid efficient road detection—an important factor for vehicles driving without human intervention — all three IITs are designing a prototype vehicle using 3D laser sensor lidar.
The automobile industry — overseas and in India — is charged with the possibilities of further development in the driverless cars segment. As participants in the Mahindra RISE Prize Driverless Car Challenge, IIT Bombay and Kharagpur have also tested their autonomous tech using Mahindra’s electric car E2O.
Experts say that with the global interest in technology-development and testing, driverless cars will be ready for commercial markets in less than a decade.