Driverless Vehicle for Students: IIT Gandhinagar Students Develop Fully Autonomous Vehicle

Driverless Vehicle for Students: IIT Gandhinagar Students Develop Fully Autonomous Vehicle

Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) students have developed a fully-functional autonomous vehicle that can operate without a driver. 

The vehicle was developed as part of a one-of-a-kind course on Autonomous Vehicles. Over the course of a semester, spanning from January 2024 to May 2024, the students embarked on a journey to transform an electric golf cart into a state-of-the-art driverless vehicle capable of navigating the campus from the hostels to the academic area autonomously. Through their dedication and relentless hard work, the students overcame numerous challenges to realise their vision of a self-driving vehicle.

The students have equipped it with sensors including a regular camera, a depth camera, and lidar. Furthermore, they incorporated a series of hardware modifications comprising steering mechanism, braking mechanism, acceleration control system as well as algorithms including computer vision algorithms and automatic control algorithms. These modifications converted the vehicle to be capable of fully-autonomous operations including lane detection, obstacle detection, automatic steering control, and automatic braking and acceleration. 

Over the past few weeks, the students have successfully tested the autonomous vehicle in real-life conditions on the roads of the IITGN campus. Additionally, considering the safety of the campus residents as well as the vehicle, they undertook several safety measures by incorporating multiple backup systems, manual overrides, and emergency stops. For the initial testing, the speed was maintained at a safe 7 kmph. 

The instructor of the course, Prof Harish P M shared that “The students have done an extraordinary job. They took on such a challenging task that involves real-world implementation of multiple advanced technologies with a high-level of reliability and have demonstrated successful implementation with so much complexity involved in such a short amount of time.” He added that “Autonomous cars are quickly maturing and it will not be long before we see them in airports, campuses, malls, and other controlled environments before seeing them on all roads.” 

The 10 fourth-year BTech students, comprising nine from the department of Mechanical Engineering and one from Chemical Engineering, received invaluable support and guidance from guest lecturers, IITGN laboratory staff, and teaching assistants throughout the development process. With a total budget of approximately Rs 65,000 (excluding vehicle and computer), the students maximised resources to achieve remarkable results.

Saniya Patwardhan, one of the students who worked on the project said, “The experience of working on this project was wonderful and enriching. It was a long project which required a lot of dedication and meticulous planning.” Delving on some of the challenges faced during the course of the project, she remarked, “Using the existing lab resources and making the best out of them was challenging as well as rewarding.”      

Rahul Pai, another student who was part of the project stated, “Being a part of this project has been an incredible journey of learning and growth. From implementing theory ingeniously, to collaborating with a wonderful team, every step has been fulfilling. Witnessing our vehicle navigate through the roads autonomously after all the hard work we did was gratifying.”

Now that the technology is demonstrated and the vehicle has cleared the initial tests, the students hope that the next batch of students can take this up for operationalising this vehicle as a day-to-day service available to the students in the coming semester. The students are also confident that future groups of students working on this vehicle will be able to challenge other college groups in the country for an autonomous car race.