India has inaugurated the first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art autonomous navigation facility to develop unmanned ground and aerial vehicles.
India has inaugurated the first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art autonomous navigation facility to develop unmanned ground and aerial vehicles in the IIT Hyderabad campus. Leading the inauguration yesterday of the Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation (TiHAN) was Dr. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; and MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space.
The Minister also interacted with startups developing unmanned ground motor vehicles such as driver-less self-driven motor cars, driver-less self-driven bicycles, and unmanned aerial vehicles including drones in different shapes and sizes.
Funded by the Union Ministry of Science & Technology at a budget of Rs.130 crore, TiHAN is a multidisciplinary initiative aimed at making India a global player in the futuristic and next generation “smart mobility” technology.
Dr. Singh keenly listened to the experience of the young startups, engaged in unmanned vehicle navigation projects and suggested that they should be linked with the industry for further sustenance and growth.
The Minister also appreciated that IIT Hyderabad has established a new post-graduation course of M.Tech in Smart Mobility, which is the first-of-its-kind in India. He said he was glad to know that the Ministry of Science & Technology has played a role in promoting this visionary and futuristic initiative in India, which is going to be of global relevance in the years to come.
The vision of TiHAN-IITH is to become a global player for next-generation smart mobility technologies, and the Ministry of Science & Technology has come forward to support this initiative, which will be a trendsetter for others as well.
According to Dr. Singh, limited testbeds or proving grounds exist worldwide to investigate the operation of unmanned and connected vehicles in a controlled environment by simulating various scenarios that may occur in real-life traffic operations, ranging from frequently occurring to extreme cases. A few examples include Millbrook Proving Grounds in the UK, M-City in the United States, CETRAN in Singapore, K-City in South Korea, and JARI in Japan. In India, there is presently no such testbed facility for assessing autonomous vehicle performance, and hence the need for this TiHAN Testbed.
“Setting up of 25 technology innovation hubs by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) across the country under National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) is one of the many programs launched under the leadership of the Prime Minister to make India a frontrunner and destination for futuristic technologies. IIT Hyderabad has been awarded the Technology Innovation Hub in ‘Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems, which is a multi-disciplinary initiative, including researchers from electrical engineering, computer science, engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, civil engineering, mathematics, design, liberal arts, and entrepreneurship. TiHAN is recognized as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO) by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research,” Dr. Singh said. “In synergy with the industry, R&D labs, and academic institutions, both national and
international, TiHAN is developing and deploying a real-time Cyber-Physical System (CPS) utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground/surface vehicles (UGV) for many application sectors of national importance. Among the most essential factors for making autonomous and connected vehicles more acceptable to consumers is their effectiveness in realistic conditions. Thus, it is crucial to evaluate these new technologies in a safe, controlled environment before deploying them.”
The TiHAN-IITH Autonomous Navigations Testbed (Aerial & Terrestrial) will be an integrated test facility for UGVs and UAVs, will be the first test bed facility and will help in validating the autonomous navigation and data acquisition technologies developed for aerial and terrestrial use-cases, according to Dr. Singh. He added that India’s mobility sector is one of the world’s largest markets, and TiHAN – IITH will be the source of futuristic technology generation for autonomous vehicles. TiHAN-IITH will allow the country in testing the next generation autonomous navigation technologies accurately and allow faster technology development and global market penetration.
TiHAN is developing and deploying a real-time CPS system utilising autonomous UAVs and ground/surface vehicles for many application sectors of the national importance of this decade, Dr. Singh said, adding that the testbed includes simulation platforms that allow for non-destructive testing of algorithms and prototypes.
Several real-world scenarios can be emulated on the testbed. In terrestrial systems, a few examples of these scenarios are smart cities, signalized intersections, autonomous vehicle interactions with cyclists and pedestrians, wireless networking among vehicles and road-side units, to name a few. The testbed also provides dummy signboards, pedestrians, overpasses, and bikers to test all real-world conditions. It also includes an airstrip, soft landing area, hangar for keeping drones, a ground control station (GCS), and telemetry station for performance evaluation. Performance evaluation of payloads such as LiDAR, radar, camera, etc., is being evaluated. Control transition between manual and autonomous operation, and studies on public acceptance of driverless vehicles. The standard operating procedures for unmanned vehicles will significantly aid in formulating the regulations and operating policies for different applications in the Indian scenario.
Under this national mission, IIT Hyderabad has been awarded the Technology Innovation Hub in the technological vertical of “Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems (UAVs, ROVs. etc.)”. NMICPS Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation Foundation (TiHAN) is a multi-disciplinary initiative, including researchers from electrical engineering, computer science and engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, civil engineering, mathematics, design, liberal arts, and entrepreneurship at IIT Hyderabad. TiHAN is recognized as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO) by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.