“We tested it on April 1 in Jalandhar between 2:00 to 4:00 pm. A safety technician sat behind in the passenger compartment of the rickshaw to manually override the control from software in case of any anomaly,” said Gagandeep Reehal, co-founder at Minus Zero.
“We kept local authorities in loop, and on their advice we had a team of volunteers ready at different intervals on the path to moderate traffic or block the path in case of any anomaly in software,” he said “Proper safety measures were ensured beforehand, including rigorous testing in simulations.”
Minus Zero said it is building a self-driving car capable of Level 5 autonomy with highly energy-efficient electric vehicle design and proprietary nature-inspired AI that is less dependent on extensive data and costly sensor suite (like LIDAR, etc.).
“Our vehicles will be able to drive autonomously in highly unstructured and disorganised traffic scenarios like India’s,” it said.
Minus Zero is founded by Reehal and Gursimran Kalra, students pursuing their degrees. The test vehicle travelled 2.2 kms at an average speed of 20 km/h on roads that had medium traffic.
According to Reehal, the company’s perception algorithms do not depend on lane markings for road detection, making it possible to drive autonomously even on roads in bad condition. It also doesn’t use expensive sensor suites, such as long-range LIDARs even at night. “You do not show a human baby 10,000 images of birds to make him capable of knowing that there is a bird in front of him,” Reehal said.