The Defexpo India 2016, which is the ninth biennial Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition, is being held at Naqueri Quitol in Quepem Taluka of South Goa, India. This edition of Defexpo has received an overwhelming and unprecedented national and international response. Though the scenario is changing now, if we take a stock of private involvement in Defense related technologies, we would find out that there were very limited numbers of player in the domestic scenario till the last decade or so. It is a matter of happiness that with the various schemes of the government say the Make in India etc even the defense sector has got an impetus. The change in scenario is bound to instill a renewed sense of pride in Indian industry by exhibiting the potential of design, innovation and sustainability across India's manufacturing sectors in the coming decade.
More than 1,000 companies, both foreign and Indian, are taking part in the exhibition this year. With a total of 510 companies, participation by Indian companies has doubled since 2014 which saw a participation by 256 companies. A total of 490 foreign companies are participating this year against 368 in DefExpo 2014.
The vehicle which caught the fancy of visitors at the Expo was the Novus-Drive, a driver less Shuttle manufactured by The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Ltd. (THRSL). It is India’s first driver less vehicle and it works on the technology of Artificial Intelligence. The path planning and obstacle avoidance is achieved through machine driven algorithms. It has the capacity to carry 14 people at a time.
Astha Lokhande, a visitor, who came all the way from Mumbai was delighted to see the vehicle and said, “Novus – Drive is State of the Art Artificial Intelligence in action and I was thrilled to take a ride on India’s first driverless shuttle. I am delighted that this has been innovated and made in its entirety in India.”
Novus-Drive is the first driverless shuttle in the country. The vehicle has the capacity to seat 14 people, it can autonomously navigate on its own with its high fidelity sensors and robust algorithms for path planning and navigation. The vehicle is indigenously manufactured at the THRSL’s Gurgaon facility. It’s a complete made in India product with all its research and development having taken place in Gurgaon.
Among other features , a feature which makes it a favourite is its battery run mechanism i.e. the vehicle is 100% environment friendly and runs 150 kilometers per charge. The safety features include autonomous emergency braking.
The vehicle is having 3 dimensional LiDAR sensors along with stereo vision cameras and GPS INS. The 3D Lidar maps the entire environment and creates a 3D reconstruction of the environment to take decisions for autonomous navigation and path planning. The stereo camera vision also creates video feeds with depth information for making out the traversable and non-traversable path. The vehicle autonomously navigates by creating an obstacle map, which further detects the roads, pavements, pedestrians and other vehicles on the path. This information is used by the plan the path of the vehicle with AI based path planners of the vehicle to dynamically and completely autonomously. The user can enter the destination over a tablet mounted on the vehicle. Once the destination is entered the vehicle starts its journey. It reaches the destination without any hiccups, pausing and moving according to the direction and road congestion.
These vehicles have been manufactured mainly for commuting in controlled atmosphere and is best suited for Intra-university travel, large office campus, elderly health care communities, trade fair and theme parks along with the upcoming smart cities. The vehicle is a first of its kind manufactured in India. The Hi-Tech Robotic Systems Limited (THRSL) was founded in late 2004. THRSL is India's pioneering company in the field of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.The Company has successfully developed and commercialized a wide range of robotic products catering to the needs of Defence, homeland security & Industrial Sectors. Over the last few years, a talent pool from premier institutes of the world is working in THRSL. The company has invested an undisclosed huge amount in R&D for developing Industrial Robots, Defence Robots and Driverless Vehicles.
A visibly pleased Senior Defence Personnel said, "I am delighted to witness this driver less vehicle. This vehicle is not only a made in India vehicle but it also addresses the environmental concerns. It gives me immense pleasure to see that the young generation is involved in the R&D of this project, I wish them luck for their future endeavor.
Talking about the success story of THRSL and Novus Drive, Mr. Anuj Kapuria, Director & CEO, The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Limited (THRSL) said, ‘I left my PHD midway to form this company in India, Robotics and automation were my passion and I chose them to be my profession. We have brought out is the first driver-less vehicle which is completely made in India from research to technology and Novus Drive would revolutionize the transport in large campuses and townships. Its success will pave for more driver-less vehicles from us.”