Autonomous driving is one of the fast-growing trends all over the world. The mere idea of sitting in a vehicle and being driven to your destination without hassle is making many engineers, researchers and scientists daydream and work hard to fulfil this dream.
Although the idea might seem very recent and state-of-the-art, a driverless car was first realised in the 40s of the last century. Almost three generations ago, right?
In the first decade of the present century I was working on my PhD and finalising the control system to avoid obstacles, finding a better path to take over and meanwhile maintain the comfort and safety of passengers during the acceleration and deceleration of vehicle. I considered all the possible challenges that an autonomous car could face. Or at least I tried to cover the majority of them, leaving some part for my friends, the faculty of aviation systems. Those days most researchers were very concerned about the kinematics and dynamics of the vehicle, its ability to manoeuvre and a whole bunch of equations that we had to deal with.
However, time proved that there is much more to this research. Once the systems started to run on the roads in different parts of the world, we found more and more challenges and tasks to deal with. From consumer perception to decision making, from technology to insurance policy frameworks all the way through to developing an AI capable of handling real world scenarios where, weather, anthropological and geographical location can play an important role.
India is no different. When I landed in Incredible India for the first time, I found that this subcontinent and many other countries with the same traffic culture and infrastructure must provide a package of all above mentioned points with several new challenges, and found it fascinating.
There are a group of car manufacturers which are staring at India as a great market. There should be great motivation for all of us to think about autonomous driving and its challenges and try to solve the glitches.
The advancement in technology in all different fields has given a tremendous thrust to this movement. In the past the cost of developing a driverless car was considered a major obstacle on its way. The high price of sensors, an important component and specifically Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) was to be blamed for this. Nowadays, sensor designers and manufacturers have created more affordable and yet more accurate LiDAR’s and cameras to be used in the system. Many of the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers have set 2025 to achieve significant milestones in the area of autonomous driving. There is still a lot to do. No matter how exciting or grandiose it might look, the present driverless systems and vehicles are far from perfection. There are only a few cities and countries which have approved the test and use of these vehicles on their roads. Others are still processing this thought and looking at the development with care and scepticism. New aspects of using driverless cars are still emerging amid the development of technology and engineering. Philosophers, ethicists, behaviourists, sociologists, lawyers, policy makers, psychologists and economists are just a few groups that are showing interest and conducting elaborate research in this area.
Together, we need to focus on developing an Indian driverless car for Indian roads and condition