Futuristic 'Autonomous Navigation' Facility To Develop Unmanned Ground, Aerial Vehicles Inaugurated At IIT Hyderabad
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology; Jitendra Singh on Monday (4 July) inaugurated first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art “Autonomous Navigation” facility to develop unmanned ground and aerial vehicles in the IIT Hyderabad campus.
Funded by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology at a budget of Rs 130 crore, the “Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation” (TiHAN) is a multidisciplinary initiative, which will make India a global player in the futuristic and next generation “Smart Mobility" technology.
During the event, the minister also interacted with startups developing unmanned ground motor vehicles like driver-less self-driven motor cars, driver-less self-driven bicycles etc., and unmanned aerial vehicles including drones in different shapes and sizes.
The minister said the vision of TiHAN-IITH, is to become a global player for next generation smart mobility technologies and the Ministry of Science and Technology has come forward to support this initiative, which will be a trendsetter for others as well.
Singh informed that 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 USA, CETRAN in Singapore, K-City in South Korea, JARI in Japan, etc.
In India, there is presently no such testbed facility for assessing autonomous vehicle performance, and hence the need for this TiHAN Testbed, the minister added.
Singh said TiHAN-IITH has already taken many forward looking initiatives to promote innovation in the mobility sector. He said TiHAN testbed will provide a unique platform for high quality research between academia, industry and R&D labs both at the national and international level, thus making India a global leader in autonomous navigation technologies.
The minister said India’s mobility sector is one of the world’s largest markets and the TiHAN-IITH will be the source of futuristic technology generation for autonomous vehicles.
He also added that the TiHAN-IITH testbed on Autonomous Navigations (Aerial & Terrestrial) will allow testing of the next generation autonomous navigation technologies accurately and allow faster technology development and global market penetration.
He said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, many programmes have been launched to make India a leader and destination for futuristic technologies.
One such initiative is the 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), according to a Science and Technology Ministry release.
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.
The Minister said 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.
He said this testbed includes simulation platforms that allow for non-destructive testing of algorithms and prototypes.
Also, several real-world scenarios can be emulated on the testbed. In terrestrial systems, a few examples of these scenarios are Smart Cities, Signalised Intersections, Autonomous Vehicle Interactions with Cyclists and Pedestrians, Wireless Networking among vehicles and Road-Side Units, etc.
The autonomous vehicle testbed also provides dummy signboards, pedestrians, overpasses, and bikers to test all real-world conditions.
The testing facility also includes an airstrip, soft landing area, hangar for keeping drones, a Ground control station (GCS), Telemetry Station for Performance Evaluation.
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