Lasers, radars, 3D maps and more! IIT-Kharagpur alumni develop driverless shuttle

2nd May 2016
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Developed by Auro Robotics, this driverless shuttle has been designed for in-campus travel. Auro Robotics, the California-based startup was founded around three years ago by former IIT-Kharagpur students, Nalin Gupta, Jit Ray Chowdhury and Srinivas Reddy. The company has been a part of the IIT Kharagpur Robotics Research Group, CMU’s Robotics Institute and Y-Combinator.

Representational Image, Source - Ziptopia
Representational Image, Source - Ziptopia

According to The Economic Times, this driverless shuttle can be used 24x7 and in all weather conditions. No special rails or dedicated pathways are required for its operation. The vehicle is equipped with lasers, a camera, a radar and GPS. The shuttle relies on a prior 3D map of the environment. It uses this 3D map to localise itself and interpret road topography. The self-driving shuttle for in-campus travel is powered by electricity. The shuttle uses the latest technology to ensure safe navigation even on busy roads. It eliminates the cost of a driver. Passengers can feed in destinations through a touch screen mounted on the vehicle, or through their mobile app. The underlying software automatically figures out the optimum high-level route to reach the destination safely, the statement issued by IIT-Kharagpur said.

According to a report by Tech Portal, while most automobile and technology companies are focusing on automating passenger cars and urban mobility, Auro Robotics is focusing on niche category of last mile public transportation. The idea behind Auro Robotics is to cut down the operating cost by replacing manually driven golf carts and mini buses with driverless shuttles at places such as a university or company campus, large industrial sites, airports, etc.

In June 2014, the company received seed funding from IIT Kharagpur and also go enrolled into its incubation centre. In September 2014, it received grant from DSIR, Govt. of India, for development and commercialisation of technology.

Auro Robotics provides a complete package of technology system, including proprietary software moulded to the unique needs of the location, to ensure safe and reliable autonomous transportation that promises to reduce parking congestion, facilitate mobility. It claims to improve campus security and reduce operating costs up to 60 percent. The platform combines vehicles and a software platform to overcome challenges of maneuvering safely among erratic traffic flow, heavy crowds, bad weather and imprecise GPS.

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