Autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars have been generating plenty of buzz across the automotive industry globally. Autonomous cars are increasingly seen as something that will transform the way people ‘drive’. However, in the Indian context, the jury is still not out on whether such self-driving cars would be adopted in a big way, as there are strong reservations in various quarters over whether autonomous vehicles would end up eliminating jobs of cab drivers in a large way and whether the country will be ready with required infrastructure in years to come.
Mumbai-based Unlimit IoT has been working on ensuring next generation vehicles such as autonomous vehicles run in the manner it is supposed to run. Pradeep Sreedharan Senior VP – Sales & Operations, Unlimit IoT, said the global automotive industry is a rapidly evolving space and is exploring different possibilities of how mobility can not only be less time-consuming, but also score high on safety and comfort parametres. In fact, autonomous vehicles are talked about as the most anticipated thing to happen across the industry alongside hyper loops, supersonic flying trains, flying cars and land airbus, he noted.
The Unlimit IoT top official said autonomous cars will not only transform the way end-users operate, but will also change the way end-users think since it is all about sensing the environment with very less human input. Of course, mobility has undergone a significant shift over many decades. 150 years back ago people were driven by animals, subsequently by animals and then by humanoids, in terms of robots or any artificial intelligence.
Sreedharan said the industry is even looking at a scenario where no one may want to drive the vehicle in coming years given the stress involved around it be it traffic snarls, rowdy driving, etc. Level 4 autonomous cars are absolutely available, but also added that Level 5 autonomous cars will be slightly difficult to grow as no one can say for sure how fast is the industry moving toward Level 5, he pointed out.
It is pertinent to mention that the automotive industry will witness a huge data explosion even as driverless cars are being adopted across the globe. Sreedharan said data will emerge as the new ‘oil’.
Sreedharan said every autonomous car roughly takes around data conception in the present standards equivalent to 3,000 people. Every such car will churn out 4,000 GB of data every day and one can well image the data generation in such cars, he added. There is huge data generation for autonomous cars because such vehicles are equipped with hundreds of on-vehicle sensors. It is said that cameras alone will generate 20 to 40 Mbps, while the radar will generate between 10 and 100 Kbps. There is no denying the fact that going forward automotive firms will become big computer organisations, Sreedharan stated.
Sreedharan also underpinned safety as the biggest USP of autonomous cars. He cited a US survey which revealed that people using autonomous cars in the US believe that the amount of insurance they pay out significantly reduces for autonomous cars and they quantified that in 191 million dollars. The survey stated that 91% of accidents is related to human error, which only underlines the essence of safety in such cars.
More importantly, Sreedharan said autonomous cars will ensure a peace of mind for vehicle user besides offering fuel efficiency and increased productivity. For an Indian scenario, any office-goer will reach office with less stress because he does not have to drive manually and also because traffic management in India is much better because vehicles move in directions and not in lanes, he noted.
He said driverless cars are a concern area for a country like India, where driving as a profession provides livelihood to thousands of people, especially cab drivers. Even insurance companies will have to change their business model completely, he opined.
Sreedharan touched upon how driverless cars could potentially reduce carbon footprint. If people start living outside cities, it means they will travel from outside the city, which will result in an increase in fuel consumption but will reduce carbon footprint in the city, he explained.
Sreedharan said autonomous cars have interesting advantages and challenges and it will require a huge amount of work before such are cars are widely deployed across the globe. “Automotive companies have to figure out how they can jump the castle – how you are going to manage it or adopt it. Price is a big thing in India and there must be a fundamental need created for people to use autonomous cars as adoption will not happen just because of a general want,” he concluded.