Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Driverless Tata Nano

Just so you don't feel that Google and Tesla are having all the fun with autonomous self-driving AI vehicles, a robotics researcher in Bangalore has modified a Tata Nano to turn it into a driverless vehicle:

Perhaps Ratan Tata should take a closer look at what this fellow has done. Maybe sponsor it for a cross-country self-driving road tour. It would at least be impressive for the trade shows. But "world's cheapest driverless car" also has a nice ring to it. Made in India!

Consider that if a large number of such cheap systems were to be put into operation, they could each be transmitting back information on various situations the vehicle encounters - just like your web browser sends information back each time it crashes. That accumulating pool of information could be continually analyzed to make the vehicle's AI smarter and more robust. The cheapest system would become the most widely deployed system would become the smartest and most robust system.

Given that companies like Uber are already clamouring for driverless cars to improve their business model, one of India's homegrown Uber-rivals might benefit from looking at this robo-Nano invention. The technology could also be adapted for defense applications and even space systems, after being stress-tested in the everyday world.

Maybe if any of Modi's "smart cities" take off, they'd be the ideal place to showcase such smart self-driving vehicles, and such cities could even be designed around facilitating them.

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