India to soon have driverless buses

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India may be a few years away from driverless cars, but driverless buses and trucks could hit Indian roads as early as 2020.

Tata Motors has already begun trials for driverless buses at its Pune campus, where a full-fledged bus has been plying on a fixed route without any human intervention.

Sensors have been placed at simulated bus stops where the bus slows as it approaches them. It stops to allow passengers to board and alight and then continues on its journey.

“We have the prototype ready with several sensors such as optical sensors, proximity sensors, and even radar. These sensors are now easily available off-the-shelf but we’ve put them together to create a fully autonomous bus that we are testing within our campus,” said a senior executive from Tata Motors.

Tata Motors stated that it is taking extreme caution in order to ensure the vehicle adheres to safety norms. Presently the buses run at less than 10 kmph within the campus, however, as the platform stabilises, the company said it would test them at higher speeds and on more realistic road conditions.

The Tata Motors executive, however, said that before a fully autonomous bus or a truck, semi-autonomous vehicles would take to the roads.

“Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) would … solve significant challenges for drivers, making the drive less stressful and a lot safer,” the executive added.