Equipping India For Autonomous Driving
Autonomous driving is the future, with a majority of the world transitioning to it in the next few decades. The US and China with their huge spend on innovation and research could be the early adopters!
India being one of the biggest automotive markets, will eventually get to the point of autonomous driving and accident prevention systems sooner than we think.
The Biggest Challenge For India
Most modern cars such as Tesla and other semi-autonomous cars rely on their inbuilt navigation system.
The biggest challenge that they're going to face is not something that we naturally assume.
No, it's not Indian traffic!
Artificial Intelligence can mimic anything, and that includes driving like how a person does in India!
The challenge is something else.
The biggest challenge that Tesla or other autonomous units will face is the lack of lanes and street dimensions!
Indian streets are unique in that they do not have assigned lane markings and uniform dimensions for sidewalks as seen in other developed countries.
Illegal speed breakers in narrow neighborhood roads, unforeseen road blocks and the absence of map providers with accurate street dimensions is going to be a major challenge when Tesla's navigation systems choose the best route.
What is LiDAR?
LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It is a technology that is able to map the complete depth and dimensions of objects in a given street at an accuracy close to 1 cm! Most self driving units fuse LiDAR data along with image data to accurately predict the distance and the depth of the objects ahead.
Road Mapping Is the First Step - And That Includes Potholes!
Indian road conditions are unique in that they also come with other defects such as extremely deep potholes, and construction work encroaching roads.
With a map of road data such as potholes, dimensions, and other features, any car that is semi-autonomous, will be able to map to a destination by matching the street's dimensions and topography to the car's dimensions.
What We're Doing At RoadMetrics
With RoadMetrics, we're mapping road conditions using image data as well as accelerometer vibrations from a simple smartphone. We have covered close to 1000 km of arterial roads in Bangalore and are on course to cover most major cities by 2020!
Our hope is that in the future we are able to integrate LiDAR to arrive at a comprehensive analysis of road data in Indian metros. This should be a springboard for the future of mobility in India!