There is no steering wheel in the car. The vehicle instead navigates through traffic using high-resolution cameras which are strategically placed inside it.
An artificial intelligence (AI) startup Minus Zero, which is based in the Indian city of Bengaluru, has unveiled the first self-driving car in the country, “zPod”.
“With true vision autonomy coming to the fore, one can make autonomous vehicles a reality, solving major pain points of the mobility paradigm,” stated CEO Gagandeep Reehal at the launch.
Reehal along with Gursimran Kalra founded Minus Zero in 2021. The start-up raised $1.7 million in seed funds from various investors which includes Chiratae Ventures, Snow Leopard Ventures, IIT Mandi and other angel investors.
All about zPod – India’s first autonomous car
The four-wheeler does not have a steering wheel and the strategically-placed high-resolution cameras help the car in analysing driving conditions, which includes traffic.
The surroundings of the vehicle are captured in a camera-sensor suite which is shared with the AI system embedded in it. In turn, the information is processed by the AI through images to help zPod control its speed, avoid obstacles, and stop.
Minus Zero has claimed that the self-driving car can be scaled up to “Level 5” autonomy, which is the highest autonomy ever achieved in such a vehicle.
This level of autonomy indicates that no human intervention is needed to operate it. Currently, the car zPod is “good enough” for use within an enclosed and controlled area like large residential complexes or campuses, stated Minus Zero.
No plans to build more cars, say founders
The start-up further aims to provide the tech to help OEMs improvise their advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).
Speaking to Business Today, the founders stated that zPod is only a car which has been designed to present before the world AI-based autonomous vehicle technology which has been developed by the company. They added that they do not plan to build cars.
“We are not an OEM; we do not plan to build cars. It is a vehicle developed to showcase the system we have built. We believe not one company or country alone can build and develop the concept of autonomous vehicles; it needs the whole ecosystem to come together. It is just the beginning,” Reehal stated.
“Our concepts allow automakers to explore new design possibilities for vehicles, currently limited by the constraints of a driver-led design. We aim to redefine mobility from a driver-centric hassle to a user-focused experiential design,” said Kalra.