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Undriven India

Research project on Indian traffic and learning how that could inspire building self driving cars of the future.

One of the research projects that I have undertaken during my academic tenure, our journey to explore the future of autonomous mobility in India was very intriguing; A number of factors inspired me to take this challenge up - from the sheer diversity of the country and the resultant divergent driving behaviours, the volume of traffic on Indian roads and the realisation that if this problem could be solved for India, it could be taken anywhere in the world.

The primary research covered six metro cities where the observed traffic behaviour was captured as video footage of over 300 GB, from which a set of 2000 photographs were selected for detailed cause-impact analysis.


Considering the non-standardised road conditions, traffic rule violations and varied driving behaviours within the country, the challenges in India are unique. Though the Indian traffic scene could be passed off as chaotic, there are a number of interesting insights that emerged - the self-restored of order from chaos, real time negotiations between drivers (often non-verbal), fearless nature of public on the road and the apparent disregard for personal space.

This study which was completed over a period of 6 months, enabled us to come up with a behaviour module for a concept autonomous car designed for India, which would require system level interventions, in addition to the adaptations required to suit Indian conditions. However, this has been largely behavioural in nature and has not covered the decision making complexities that the vehicle itself would have to encounter.

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