Monday, October 26, 2020

Automation in Transportation-Are we there yet?

We have certainly come a long way from the times when mankind had discovered a wheel to promote transportation. Now is the era of transportation which is driven by Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Robotics and Artificial Intelligence is the discipline of science and technology which endeavors to harness the intellect of the human brain into a physical manifestation of technological intelligence which is self equipped to solve the day to day problems. This concept has been prominent for a very long time and is now changing the complete dynamics of transportation. The scope of automation is tremendous and its no wonder that it has engulfed the automobile industry so rapidly.

An automation vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and operating without or minimal human involvement. The vehicle is on its own and does not mandatorily require the presence of any human being to take control of the operations of the vehicle at any point. The advantages of such a revolutionary advancement are plenty. Some of them include reduced accidents, more efficient and convenient travel, reduced travel time, stressfree travel, efficient fuel consumption, etc. Endeavors to promote autonomous transportation had been around for a very long time and the experiments to reach this technical milestone have been conducted
since at least the 1920s. Promising trials took place in the 1950s and work has proceeded since then. The first self-sufficient and truly autonomous cars appeared in the 1980s. The world has seen many improvised versions since then and the developments continue to keep humanity amazed as to what might unfold next.

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Autonomous cars have not really populated the Indian roads yet and the root of this observation can be deduced from many factors. One of the major factors include the
wide range of vehicles that dominate the roads at various speeds. The original autonomous technology wasn’t exactly designed to handle so many varied vehicle formats driving at such different speeds. Another factor to be considered is the traffic scenario and the aspect of switching the lanes when driving. Autonomous cars are programmed to react in a certain manner when certain situations occur and therefore the diversity in the possible driving scenarios needs to be considered. The decision-making process is incessant. It is influenced by the input received from the sensors about the surroundings and the current state of the vehicle. For example, a white surface in front might be interpreted as a wall of fog, whitewall, or the back of a large vehicle that lies ahead and is stationary. These aspects can get really diverse when all the possible conditions are taken into consideration. The programming should also be equipped with the ability to take intelligent and spontaneous decisions such as what would be the course of action in case of intervention of passengers when driving and the timely implementation of the emergency control measures.

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These are some of the aspects which make us ponder over the time span required for autonomous cars to turn into a new way of our transportation. We need to consider the fact that technology always keeps expanding and India would soon experience a new way to adorn the roads of the country which would eventually become the new normal. The future of the country embraces automation with everything it has to offer.

Suman Dharaneppagoudar
Suman Dharaneppagoudar
Currently an Engineer. Hobbies include Literature and Chess. Passionate about nature and travel.

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