Desi Jugaad: Man Turns Alto 800 into Self-Driving Car Using a Used Redmi Phone
A deep dive into the innovative use of a Redmi phone to empower the Maruti Alto with self-driving capabilities, challenging conventional automotive norms.
The remarkable achievement of Mankaran, founder of FlowDrive.ai, in converting a Maruti Alto K10 into an autonomous vehicle using a pre-owned Redmi Note 9 Pro smartphone, represents a significant stride in automotive technology. This innovative approach challenges the norm of high-end autonomous driving technology, which typically requires substantial investment.
Mankaran's method involves the integration of FlowDrive software, a variation of the open-source 'OpenPilot' self-driving algorithm, installed on a budget-friendly Redmi Note 9 Pro. This software connects to the Alto K10 via the car's OBD port, enabling control over the car's modified electric steering system. Remarkably, the smartphone's camera serves as the vehicle's eyes, providing the necessary visual input for the software.
However, this pioneering attempt to bring autonomous driving to an entry-level car does not come without risks and challenges. Testing such technologies on public roads, especially under the unpredictable conditions of Indian traffic and weather, poses significant dangers not only to the vehicle but also to other road users. Moreover, such testing is illegal in India without proper authorisation from regulatory bodies.
The government's cautious stance towards autonomous driving, primarily due to concerns about job losses in the driving sector, reflects the broader societal and economic considerations. While the technical feat achieved by Mankaran is commendable, it also highlights the need for responsible innovation and compliance with legal and safety regulations.
This development, albeit groundbreaking, underscores the complexity of balancing technological advancement with societal and ethical considerations. The integration of autonomous driving capabilities into an affordable vehicle like the Maruti Alto, using a smartphone, opens new possibilities in the automotive sector. However, it also serves as a reminder of the need for a careful and thoughtful approach in embracing such technologies.