Artificial Intelligence to make roads in India safer to drive

NEW DELHI:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered solutions may soon make roads in India a safer place to drive. A unique AI approach that uses the predictive power of AI to identify risks on the road, and a collision alert system to communicate timely alerts to drivers, to make several improvements related to road safety, is being implemented in Nagpur City with an objective of resulting in a significant reduction of accidents.

The project ‘Intelligent Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering’ (iRASTE) at Nagpur will identify potential accident-causing scenarios while driving a vehicle and alert drivers about the same with the help of the Advance Driver Assistance System (ADAS). The project will also identify ‘greyspots’, i.e., by data analysis and mobility analysis by continuously monitoring dynamic risks on the entire road network. Greyspots are locations on roads, which left unaddressed could become blackspots (locations with fatal accidents).

The system also conducts continuous monitoring of roads and designs engineering fixes to correct existing road blackspots for preventive maintenance and improved road infrastructure.

The iRASTE project is under by the I-Hub Foundation, IIIT Hyderabad, a Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) set up in the technology vertical- Data Banks & Data Services supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under its National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) along with INAI (Applied AI Research Institute). The project consortium includes CSIR-CRRI, and Nagpur Municipal Corporation, with Mahindra and Intel as the industry partners.

The Hub is working to coordinate, integrate, and amplify basic and applied research in broad data-driven technologies as well as its dissemination and translation across the country. One of the primary aims is to prepare a critical resource for the future use by researchers, startups, and industry, mainly in the areas of smart mobility, healthcare along with smart buildings.

What makes the iRASTE project even more unique is that AI and technology is being applied to create practical solutions, as a blueprint,  for  Indian conditions. While the initial rollout of iRASTE is in Nagpur, the eventual goal is to replicate the solution in other cities too. Currently, talks are on with the Telangana government to adopt the technology in a fleet of buses that ply on highways. There are further plans to extend the scope of iRASTE to Goa and Gujarat also.

I-Hub Foundation has also used techniques ranging from machine learning, computer vision and computational sensing for several other data-driven technological solutions in the mobility sector. One such solution is the India Driving Dataset (IDD), a dataset for road scene understanding in unstructured environments captured from Indian roads, which stands out by deviating from the worldwide assumptions of well-delineated infrastructure such as lanes, limited traffic participants, low variation in object or background appearance and strong adherence to traffic rules.

The dataset, a first of its kind, consists of 10,000 images, finely annotated with 34 classes collected from 182 drive sequences on Indian roads obtained from a front-facing camera attached to a car driven around Hyderabad, Bangalore, and their outskirts. The dataset is released in the public domain for unrestricted use under public license and is becoming a defacto dataset for all analysis on Indian road scenes. Currently, there are over 5000 registered users for this dataset across the world.

Another dataset called Open World Object Detection on Road Scenes (ORDER) has also been developed using the India Driving Dataset that could be used by autonomous navigation systems in Indian driving conditions for localization and classification of the objects in a road scene. Besides this, a Mobility Car Data Platform (MCDP) has been designed with several sensors – cameras, LIDARs, with necessary compute for anyone to capture or process data on the car that can help researchers and start-ups in India test their automotive algorithms and approaches in navigation and research on Indian roads.

LaneRoadNet (LRNet), a new framework with an integrated mechanism considering lane and road parameters using deep learning, has been designed to address problems of Indian roads, which have several obstacles, occluded lane markings, broken dividers, cracks, potholes, etc. that put the drivers at significant risk while driving. In this framework, a road quality score is calculated with the help of a modular scoring function. The final score helps the authorities to assess road quality and prioritize maintenance schedules of the road so as to improve the drivability.

In order to help local self-government institutions employ suitable rejuvenation methods in tree starved streets, I-Hub Foundation designed a framework for street tree detection, counting and visualization that uses object detectors and a matching counting algorithm. The work has paved way for a quick, accurate, and inexpensive way to recognize tree-starved streets.

Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has initiated a programme titled FutureSkills PRIME (www.futureskillsprime.in) in collaboration with NASSCOM, a B2C framework for re-skilling/ up-skilling of IT professionals in 10 Emerging are as including Artificial Intelligence. So far, 7 Lakh candidates have signed-up on the FutureSkills PRIME Portal, out of which, 1.2 lakh candidates have completed their courses. In addition, 524 Trainers and 4292 Government Officials have been trained on these technologies by NIELIT/C-DAC Resource Centres, and around 1.3 lakh unique learners have collectively earned 8.9 lakh ‘badges’ in recognition of having completed bite- sized digital fluency content.Under Artificial Intelligence, 36,528 candidates are enrolled in deep– skilling courses and 47,744 candidates are enrolled in Foundation courses.

Government has published the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence in June 2018 and proposes to develop an ecosystem for the research and adoption of Artificial Intelligence i.e. #AIFOR ALL.

Government has launched ‘National AI Portal’ (https://indiaai.gov.in/) which is a repository of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based initiatives in the country at a single place. As on date, there are 1024 national and international articles, 655 news, 200 videos, 90 research reports, 279 Startups, 120 Government initiatives listed at National AI Portal.

In addition, various steps have been taken to promote capacity building in Artificial Intelligence which include the following:

Government has initiated ‘Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme’ with an objective to enhance the number of PhDs in Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) and IT/IT Enabled Services (IT/ITES) sectors in the country. The research areas under the scheme include Artificial Intelligence (covering 82 PhD fellows) and Machine Learning (covering 59 PhD fellows).

National Programme on Responsible Use of AI for Youth: With the objective to empower the youth to become AI ready and help reduce the skill gap, government along with Industry partner has started this initiative to promote AI awareness among Government school going children. In Phase I, 50,666 students and 2536 teachers from 2252 schools from 35 States and UTs attended orientation sessions on AI. In Phase II, 100 teams have been short listed and have undergone extensive mentoring by AI experts. In Phase-III, Top 20 students have demonstrated their solutions in the national conference.

To foster innovation through research, government has created several ‘Centres of Excellence’ on various Emerging Technologies including Artificial Intelligence. These centres connect various entities such as startups, enterprises, venture capitalists, government and academia to look into problem statements and develop innovative solutions.

Department of Science & Technology is implementing the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to promote R&D, Human Resource Development (HRD), Technology Development, Entrepreneurship Development, International Collaboration etc. As part of the Mission implementation, 25 Technology Innovation Hubs (this) have been established in reputed institutes across the country in advanced technologies including Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Government of India has also joined the league of leading economies including USA, UK, EU, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore as a founding member of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), which is an international and multi-stakeholder initiative to guide the responsible development and use of AI, grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.

Government of India organized Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) in 2020, a first-of-its-kind global meeting of minds on Artificial Intelligence to drive India’s vision and roadmap for social transformation, inclusion and empowerment through responsible AI. It was attended by 79,000+ stakeholders from academia, research, industry and government representatives from 147 participating countries.320 distinguished speakers from 21 countries participated in the event.

The initiatives mentioned above are focusing on digital enablement of citizensin the field of Artificial Intelligence including those belonging to the Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities. Further, the FutureSkills PRIME programmefollows an ‘aggregator of aggregators’ approach for digital skills training on a national scale and is hosted as an online B2Ce-commerce platform, thereby also enabling citizens in Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities to participate in the programme. To further strengthen the physical and digital connectivity, 40 C-DAC/NIELIT Centres spread across the country are also institutionalizing blended-learning programmes, in a hub and spoke mode, as Lead & Co-Lead Resource Centres.

Further, the FutureSkills PRIME programme targets to re-skill/ up-skill aspirants in emerging technologies so that they stay relevant in their present job with improved prospects, besides finding new avenues in future job-roles.The programme also targets those whose may have lost their existing jobs due to disruptive and emerging technologies. Towards this, the programme takes into account employment linkages, such as a ‘Career Prime’ web-page on the platform and an integrated ‘Career Portal’,which provides information on IT-ITeS jobs, internships, apprenticeships, hackathons etc.

Under FutureSkills PRIME, incentives are available to the trainees, including those from economically weaker backgrounds, after the learner is successfully assessed and certified. The incentive mechanism is aimed at motivating the learner to successfully complete the online up- skilling/re-skilling programs.

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