Having only 1 percent of the world's vehicles, India is responsible for over 11 percent of global road accident deaths, resulting in nearly five lakh road accidents claiming 1,50 lakh lives annually.
As the world moves to a safer and more convenient future in autonomous vehicles, the need for the same has been felt the most in our country, aided by the factor that India is among the largest automobile markets across the globe.
The autonomous vehicles are the future of mobility towards which the entire world is headed, and the students of the Chandigarh University are leading the charge in India's journey on this path, as they have developed an autonomous, driverless car powered by Artificial Intelligence, which aims to help curb mishaps on the road and reduce deaths caused by accidents.
True to its coveted acclaim as India's number 1 Research-Intensive University, Chandigarh University, Gharuan has continued its focused and pointed emphasis on research and innovation, and its students have been innovating new technologies ever since the inception of the varsity.
As a result of meticulously putting their heads together, the students from the Department of Mechatronics Engineering have designed an autonomous car, commonly referred to as a driverless car--NOMAD, that detects its surroundings and moves without human intervention.
In addition to providing high accuracy in foggy weather and low operating costs, it curbs road accidents that are mainly the result of human error.
Originally developed by students of the 2020 Batch, including Satyam Sharma, KVS Mohan Vamsi, Navjot Singh and Sarabsukh Surya, this electric car combines a variety of sensors to perceive their surroundings, such as Radar, Lidar, Sonar, GPS, Odometry and Inertial Measurement units, so that advanced control systems can identify appropriate navigation paths, obstacles, and signage, while interpreting sensory information.
Based on a proper road-legal base structure, the NOMAD is equipped with sensors and cameras for diagnosing the traffic conditions and acting accordingly.
As the vehicle runs on the road, it collects the data which enables the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to train the system for various road traffic conditions.
The vehicle is integrated with a 15-inch touch screen for automatic transmission and provides on-screen, touch-enabled buttons for headlights, windows, and indicators.
The car aims to reduce accidents through Pedestrian and Obstacle Detection and Avoidance technology, including Automatic Emergency Braking.
The car can distinguish a human/moving body from an object. The car would apply brakes and stop if it comes across an object, while if it comes across a moving body, it would resist the contact by first slowing down and taking a turn.
However, if there is insufficient space to make the turn, the car would apply emergency brakes.
Sharing the technical specifications, Satyam Sharma said that the NOMAD uses Deep neural networks to detect objects and the road in each frame captured by the camera sensor, while it drives and assesses the situations to make the driving decisions like acceleration, braking, left or right turn, etc.
The vehicle uses the data from GPS to know the path the car has to follow, and then neural networks are used to make real-time decisions.
"The recurrent neural network will work as the heart of the system as it can process sequential data and back-propagation through time. This ability of back-propagation through time allows to make a decision, basis the current as well as the previous position (captured frame) of the car allowing it to detect and differentiate between slow-moving and fast-moving objects and their direction of travel to avoid collision efficiently," Sharma said, adding that more than 200 programming codes in Python have been developed through machine learning.
Two main cameras provide the primary feedback to the image processing system, supplemented by 360deg sensors all around the car. The car has a 2-speed transmission, is capable of achieving a maximum speed of 25 KMPH, and can be charged in 4-5 hours, he added.
Continuing the work in this direction, the car has been further worked upon by the students of the department to add new features. The car is currently being solarised so that the battery can get charged while running due to solar panels atop the car and this energy is then used to power the electric motor. So far, Rs 3.80 lakh has been spent on this project, all of it supported by the varsity, he added.
The car has now been equipped with many different sensors to accomplish the task of self-parking. The front and back cameras detect a suitable parking space using some basic image processing.
Once the parking space has been selected, the vehicle then uses its rearview camera and the short-range ultrasonic sensors to detect the objects surrounding our car and slowly start parking it concerning the dynamic environmental changes.
The vehicle calculates every movement of the tires made by the motors of the car and uses the rearview camera and ultrasonic sensors as feedback mechanisms to constantly correct the position of the car and slowly park it.
Remarking on this innovation, S Satnam Singh Sandhu, Chancellor of Chandigarh University, said that ever since the inception of Chandigarh University, the varsity has laid focused and pointed emphasis on inculcating the spirit of research and innovation amongst our faculty and students alike, and our top performance of the varsity in the field of research and innovation is an outcome of that.
"To date, the students and faculty of Chandigarh University have filed 1273 patents. It fills me with pride to note that as many as 683 patents have been published, while 128 patents are in the first examination stage. Apart from this, 120 patents of the university have been approved. For the last three years, Chandigarh University holds the number one position among the private universities of the countries to file a maximum number of patents, while it is ranked third in the number of patents published and granted," he said.