Publication Name: thehindubusinessline
Date: June 2018
The design and technology company, Tata Elxsi may be first off the block with its driverless car prototype solution set to hit the road in the next six-eight months.
The company’s senior vice-president, Nitin Pai, told BusinessLine that the solution will be implemented by one of the top five auto-makers. Pointing out that it is shared mobility services like Uber which will be the initial adopters of these autonomous and driverless cars, he said the demand will come mainly from them.
Tata Elxsi took the bottom-up approach with the OEMs rather the top-down approach which companies like Google are doing to put together driverless cars. “Three years back, we decided to invest on our own. We decided to build our software stack. What drives the car is the accelerator, brake and steering. No need to re-invent the wheel there. What lies in between is the software and we decided to work on that,” Pai said. The company decided to put together a team from all verticals and hired some of the best in the industry who could work on the algorithm, AI and data science. The software stack that the team worked was a self-learning algorithm and based on AI.
The result was a trademark brand, Autonomai, a fully autonomous middleware platform which has been licensed to one of the top five automakers. Right now, one of the automakers has fitted it in one of their cars and is running it on test tracks in Germany.
Tata Elxsi also decided to do the tests independently by deploying it on Indian-made cars fitted with six-seven ECUs and sensors mounted all around the car. The company rented a ground, simulated road conditions and has been testing them on these tracks. Some of the successes the company has been able to achieve is that the prototype cars are able to recognise traffic signs in all conditions with 99.54 per cent accuracy compared with 98.4 per cent of a human.
Pai said one of the challenges for companies working on autonomous cars is that sensors keep getting upgraded and hence algorithms have to be constantly rewritten and another one is about the speed as well. Right now, the speed limit for these cars is 60-70 kmph and what remains to be seen is whether the speed can be increased to about 100 kmph and more at a later date.
Tata Elxsi is working on solutions for other transportation services as well. Its engineers have worked extensively for the Kochi and the Bengaluru Metros.
“What we do primarily is address two key markets. One is the automotive and transport markets and the other is the smart home market,” the company’s CEO and Managing Director, Madhukar Dev, said.
“While the bulk of the work we do is for cars, we see it being extended to other areas as well such as farm equipment, autonomous unmanned operations etc,” Dev said.