Google’s Competitor Could Be a Driverless Shuttle System Driving on College Campuses

Google’s Competitor Could Be a Driverless Shuttle System Driving on College Campuses 1 photo
Photo: Auro Robotics on YouTube
They say that when two are fighting the third wins. We’re still not sure who’s the second party in the competition for an autonomous automotive world, considering that so many carmakers are also playing this game. But we know this much: Google may not win.
Self-driving cars are the next natural step in the automotive industry, at least that seems to be the case if you take into account that humans are getting more and more comfortable. We depend on technology already, and the future will only magnify this. Getting back to vehicles, though, we’d like to discuss this start-up that has found a different way to enter the driverless car domain.

Meet Auro Robotics, a spin-off start-up from IIT Kharagpur robotics research group. For the last four years, their team has been working on the development of a driverless shuttle based on autonomous vehicle technology. Besides the mechanics involved in such a project, they also came with a different use for their vehicles. Instead of going big, they first want to go small.

Auro has chosen to focus on these small, contained environments mainly because private corporations control them. According to Tech Crunch, this way they are not subject to the burdensome government regulation that Google and other companies are stuck behind with their driverless cars. “The unique advantage this strategy gives us is that we can mobilize the shuttles now instead of waiting for the next five or ten years for laws to get through,” Auro Robotics CEO Nalin Gupta said, according to the source.

In other words, there’s this young company that wants to cover the last mile with autonomous shuttles in spaces like college campuses, resorts, and even small islands. Sure, why not? But how do these vehicles work?

Auto Prime claims the auto is equipped with lasers, cameras, radar and GPS providing it with complete 360-degree vision under all environmental situations. The shuttle relies on a prior 3D map of the environment, which is created once in a lifetime, at the beginning. In all subsequent runs, it uses this 3D projection to localize itself and interpret road topography.

It turns out, less is more after all. Google, you'd better watch out!

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