Building a Driverless Car: The Road to the Future

Posted By: Rise Team|Dated: June 9, 2014

From next-gen safety features, to remote-sensing technology and state-of-the-art navigation working on the Mahindra Rise Prize – Driverless Car Challenge will be an ambitious technological adventure. Here’s a tip before you begin the challenge: Think of everything you can do while driving a car—and automate all of that!

Dear Innovator,

If you’re reading this, we know you are confident about two things – driving cars and building them. You’re probably aware ofLIDAR, the US $70,000 laser radar system atop theGoogle Self-Driving carthat is used to capture 3D images of the environment. If you’re aware of that, perhaps you also know about theinfrared camerafitted into the 2014 Mercedes S-Class. However, Google is not the only company in the world working on robotic cars; almost every large car manufacturer – including BMW, Volvo and Audi, to name a few – has now assembled an A-team of researchers to automate several aspects of the driving process.

In this post, we aim to enable you think to through the Driverless Car Challenge in a methodical fashion. In an earlier post, I said: “If you can solve problems x, y and z, then you have a breakthrough product.” For the Driverless Car Challenge, the x, y and z translates into braking, steering and accelerating – all three done automatically without driver intervention.

Take a look at the various technologies you need to master to build a winning prototype for the Driverless Car Challenge.

The braking problem

Imagine sitting in the passenger seat of a driverless car somewhere in India. The car needs to brake in several situations – when the traffic light is red, when it’s too close to the car ahead, when another vehicle or pedestrian cuts in front.

What should you do, to automate the braking process? Here’s a quick list, which you can further research upon. Papers published by The Center of Automotive Research by Stanford University will be a good place to start.

a) Sensors: That can be connected to your wheel or bumper, to detect objects close to your car. As of today, BMW is building prototypes that use ultrasonic and radar sensors to detect objects.
b) 3D imaging device: Google uses LIDAR – the spinning laser radar system to capture 3D images of the environment, to input into the overall data model, and feed into the various algorithms.
c) Cameras: Video, stereo and infrared cameras – that spot road markings, traffic signals and direction signs. Stereo cameras specifically help with capturing 3D images.
d) Braking algorithm: Finally, you need to design a braking software algorithm, to take in all this data from your sensors, scanners and cameras; crunch the data and instruct the car to brake accordingly.

The acceleration problem

Cracking the acceleration problem requires an understanding of traffic patterns, accessing accurate maps and maintaining speed limits. In addition, this technology will also require greater levels of efficieny while driving, meaning smoother starts and stops. Many of the technologies (cameras, sensors, 3D imaging) used to solve the braking problem will be reused to solve the acceleration problem as well.

However, early research done by large automobile companies suggests the crucial element in all of this, is the algorithm’s ability to take split-second decisions, based on inputs from the sensors, cameras and navigation systems.

Experts also believe that robotic cars need to be fitted with an additional computer just to keep track of the other automated systems and take control, if all else fails.

e) The acceleration (and deceleration) algorithm: The algorithm needs to understand the science t of passing other cars, switching lanes and letting other cars pass, even as it figures out the speed at which to do this.

Like in the braking situation, you need to understand what objects are around the car – front, rear, sides and blind spots – and take a call accordingly. This algorithm requires skills in data crunching and developing mathematical models to act upon this data.

The obvious goal of building a driverless car is to enable people to move from point A to point B, without any trouble

The steering problem

The obvious goal of building a driverless car is to enable people to move from point A to point B, without any trouble. The technologies involved in cracking the steering problem include the ability to read maps, road directions and help passengers reach their destination.

f) GPS receiver and navigation systems: The car needs an inbuilt navigation system to understand the car’s position and the ability to navigate turn-by-turn. Google Maps and companies likeMapMyIndia have already made we’ve made reasonable progress in this area. The next step is to get your driverless car to read and understand these maps.

Some global car companies, which are now exploring partial-automation technologies, use a differential GPS receiver, which combines signals from ground-based stations and satellites to know where exactly a particular car is on the route map. Knowing this position helps instruct the robotic driver on its next move.

To conclude, we’d like to reiterate that the above list is only a roundup of technologies used by global car companies, to automate select parts of the driving process. Building a completely driverless car requires the ability to make all of this work in tandem. If you plan to contest in the Driverless Car Challenge, you need to assemble your A-team with expertise in mechatronics, software and algorithms, mathematical modelling and automobile engineering.

Lead the way to make the world’s foremost driverless car. Go beyond the box and reset the rules of travel!

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  • Saket Agrawal

    I think we need to make roads first where only vehicles run..

  • jaswanth

    hi guys let me join in this

  • jaswanth

    ok then what’s aap with new ones now

  • jaswanth

    any one to rply me

  • sukhjinder

    For India applying GPS driven car will not be fruitful as we all are aware of hap hazard traffic of Indian cities, what i feel that for if a car will be designed to work on GPS then it will have a FOS that means factor of safety say for example if car has to move there should be 1 meter distance should be maintained from the vehicle in front of it, but if this will be followed then it will become impossible for vehicle to move as there will be vehicle as well as pedestrians moving in front of it so sensor of vehicle will sense the object in front of it and will stop the vehicle will be stopped , and one more problem that will arise will be that no one will fear from these types of cars as every one will be well aware about it that they will be stopped if any object will come in front of it so this will be a disadvantage. so in nut shell design of these types of car will not solve the purpose of typical Indian city traffic.


    The same technology we can use it for all the vehicles …
    For eg :
    your leg is wounded you are the only one in that road then you can control your car by using this thing.

    you can say i ring to 911 or 108 that is not the issue…

    We are already using Wireless robots on moon and they are better in technology …

    here the main problem is we have to bring that technology at low price … that is the big task ahead

    those who started good luck :)

  • sandeep kumar

    first of all the chellenge is that how the car was start without driver or passanger movement

  • mvrs srikanth

    the car should have auto accelaration and manual leg brakes it cost’s less amount than the driverless car&it’s easy to control,access to car in traffic for the driver.

  • Namireddy Vishal

    We need to place screens in the place of glass and cameras should recognize the people .if a person is walking on road the camera should see that his eye are concentrated on our car or not if concentrated then we can give suggsion to them it will be viewed on the screen by human picturization then we can make our and their journey safe

  • Arvind Khardori

    Hey ,I saw an add on my Television last night,regarding if you give innovative ideas you can earn out of it .If this is true with whom we need to get in touch with.with. Pls mail me the details on

  • sai naveen

    for safety travel in driverless car
    1.infrared cameras-to detect humans and other living beings by heat signatures
    2.cameras-which covers car from all directions,which can recognise human body on road instead of face recognition
    4.secondary cameras for determining the length between the vehicle to vehicle or vehicle to thing or object
    6.even by taking this kind of precautions…maybe some errors occurs…so for that there is need to install voice commanding system which can control by driver by saying simple commands like STOP…this for emergency purpose if any system failed to work
    7.speed limit it depends up on the road u r driving,sychnorising the data base from g.p.s & maps…it’s like particular speed limit on particular road front and rear leasers must be installed to determine the distance between vehicles…by this car will move front from rear vehicle and halts back from front vehicle,front laser will also functionable for automated horn if any thing stands infront of car
    9.front cam must have to recognice the rear part of vehicles…so by that it will stop & horn whenever the front vehicle is halted….
    am i correct guys…:)

  • sai naveen

    and it need the capability to identify sign boards…!!!

    • g s badiger

      and it should be narrow in width

  • anitha

    I would like a car where we use hands to get started ,hands for clutch & brakes,acceleration also by hand .maybe focus better without use of legs.More interesting would be a automatic with hands as starters and stoppers.Use of legs could just end

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