Forget Google, India Delivers Prototype Model of an Autonomous Vehicle

BENGALURU: While Elon Musk’s Tesla motors and Google are working on bringing out automated cars, budding engineers from India have followed suit. A group of Indian students have implemented the driverless technology in a bicycle, a novel idea to help the differently abled. In this year’s edition of KPIT sparkle, the undergraduates from IIT Kharagpur, inspired by the disability of their friends, have designed the ‘i-bike’, an autonomous bicycle which would help them commute from one place to another with ease.

This latest creation, which won them a prize money of 5 lakh Indian rupees, emerged as the clear-cut winner amongst 1700 other innovative ideas. The event was inspired on the theme of 'Smart Solutions for Energy and Transportation'.

The finalists were evaluated based on the parameter of: novelty of their ideas, completeness of prototype, fulfillment of society's expectations/problem statement and technical knowledge.

Reports from The Economic times  states that the autonomous steering, braking, drive and balancing mechanisms differentiate the i-bike from other bicycles that need a rider.

"This can make the life of a physically challenged person way better in terms of his/her commute from one place to other," said Ayush Pandey, a fourth-year undergraduate student in the department of electrical engineering at IIT Kharagpur.

The bicycle, which can also be ridden manually, has a dual mode of locomotion in steering and driving. This further increases the efficiency meaning the i-bike can be used by both arm and leg amputees. In case of an arm amputee, the autonomous steering would help the person with the i-bike and if the person has lost his/her leg(s), then the autonomous drive would provide the required energy to move ahead while the person only steers the bicycle.

The bicycle’s design consists of a steering hub which has been modified using innovative gear mechanism. It has an autonomous mode as well as manual mode with a latch mechanism which helps switch between the two modes. The balancing mechanism utilizes retractable trainer wheel based on torsional spring mechanism, which again allows easy switching between manual and autonomous modes. The rear wheel translation is powered by a hub motor where autonomous gear powered braking mechanismhas also been installed. The bike comes with a dedicated Android application developed by the students themselves.

The IITians are in the process of applying for patent. "The application procedure would hopefully be complete in a few months," he said.

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