Up Close With An Indian Driverless Startup
We take a look at an Indian autonomous vehicle startup from the Sagar Institute of Science and Technology.
Can you start by telling us a bit about your background and your team and their experiences? How do you all contribute to the common goal?
"Thank you very much for having me. My name is Ashutosh Dubey, and I am currently pursuing my master's degree from the Sagar Institute of Science and Technology, located in Bhopal, India. Since my childhood, I have been interested in the automobile sector, and that interest has blossomed into this project. I have a team of ten members, spanning many fields and specialties, such as marketing, programming, IoT, mechanical engineering, and management. While our interests and skills are vast, we have two common threads: a want to learn and a desire to create.
Our skills allow us to bounce ideas off of each other and hone each other's skills. We can keep each other in check, and through that, we have achieved great success so far. But we have so much more we can achieve. I have always sought to change the automotive sector. We are in a new age, and my team, Team Smart Autonomous Vehicle, is taking full advantage of that. We feel that autonomous electric vehicles are the future of our world and especially for that of India. Furthermore, we seek to contribute to India's climb in regards to reputation within the technological world."
How did this project come to fruition, and what exactly are you seeking to do?
"I was the originator of this project; however, the second member joined soon after. Once we presented the idea to our department head, we were able to secure seed funding and recruit some of our classmates. We took a great deal of time determining where the best fit for every member was and where to secure the car [on which] we would model our technology.
Fortunately, one of our seniors had an electric car that we were able to borrow. Soon after, we developed our GPS [on which] our product is built. While we had many trials and tribulations, we were able to overcome our relatively slow start.
We knew that we truly had something going when we won the 'Best Innovation Award in Nirmaan, 2020', a feat that has kept us going and propelled us into where we are today. While we are aware of similar ventures, such that of Tesla, Uber, Google, as well as many others, we want to distinguish ourselves by our unparalleled wireless charging capabilities as well as autonomous parking that supersedes that of Tesla."
Can you take us through your plans and distinguish your project from other more established companies, as you have mentioned above? What do you need to get to their level?
"As I am sure you can imagine, driverless cars have incredibly sophisticated systems, including high-performance computers and an increasing number of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) sensors, such as high-resolution stereo and mono cameras, radar, and lidar, as well as future human-machine interfaces (HMIs), such as large 4K/8K. All of which are very costly, hence our need to secure more funding to further our project.
We realize that there are many startups, as well as developed companies, that are working on this, however, our mixture of modern conveniences that consumers have come to expect as well as new features will give us the edge.
We are developing a fingerprint sensor unlock, keyless go, front and back camera/sensor. The sensor will have the ability to measure the width of the road by using a color sensor, road sign organization, recognition of the bumps of the road.
The sensor will also have the ability to detect areas where accidents occur most and automatically decrease the speed, ample trunk space, an increased power bank, regenerative braking, auto-monitoring on chassis battery in real-time and low voltage protection, online firmware management and OTA(Over-the-Air programming (OTA) refers to various methods of distributing new software, configuration settings, and even updating encryption keys to devices like mobile phones, set-top boxes or secure voice communication equipment) upgrade, in-wheel motor electronic drag brake and kinetic energy recovery, and an open interface for lighting control.
Our next goal is to work on the braking system and acceleration and make a virtual map for auto-pathing. We have already created an auto-steering system using the GPS module, and now we are trying it to calibrate it to find the shortest and safest path to the destination. After this, we will shift our focus to the braking system. The accelerator and brake must work on a feedback loop system.
A generic function that includes the odometer (current speed) must also be used to predict the trajectory (in layman's terms, high throttle = high break). If the ABS is active, the mapping between accelerator and brake can be made more stable. Then, on image processing and the LIDAR(Lidar is an acronym for “light detection and ranging.” It is sometimes called “laser scanning” or “3D scanning.” The technology uses eye-safe laser beams to create a 3D representation of the surveyed environment.) sensor for object detection. And so on and so forth.”
Thank you very much for that overview. In closing, how can you see the project impacting India and the world as a whole?
"We cannot stress enough because this project is not just that; it is a [synergy] between human and machine. This machine will pave the way for a safe future, change our traffic system, decrease road accidents, [reckless driving,] and traffic violations. Above all, if this is to be accomplished, industries need to come together and maintain an open relationship with various research universities to find the best solution for the development and evaluation of autonomous vehicles so that they meet the basic safety and protection criteria."
Written by Jack Argiro
Edited by Karina Thanawala, Kevin Ma, Jason Kauppila, Alexander Fleiss, Calvin Ma, Corina Perez-Cobb, Gihyen Eom, James Rhinelander