Hyderabad: Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' virtually laid the foundation stone of 'TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad', India's first Testbed for Autonomous Navigation Systems (Terrestrial and Aerial) at IIT Hyderabad.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has sanctioned Rs. 135 crores to IIT Hyderabad under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to set up a Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems (UAVs, ROVs, etc.).
The Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation Systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Remotely Operated Vehicles at IIT Hyderabad, known as 'TiHAN Foundation' has been incorporated as a Section-8 company by the institute in June 2020.
Highlighting the importance of this facility Project Director - TiHAN and Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Dr. P. Rajalakshmi said: "Several organizations worldwide have developed testbeds or proving grounds to investigate the functioning of unmanned and connected vehicles in a controlled environment by replicating different scenarios, ranging from frequently occurring to extreme cases that may ensue in real-life traffic operation."
He said currently, there is no such testbed facility in India to evaluate the autonomous navigation of vehicles. "Therefore, it is envisioned to address this gap by developing a fully functional and exemplary testbed facility dedicated to Connected Autonomous Vehicles - CAVsin a portion of the beautiful IIT Hyderabad campus. The hub's focus sectors include Intelligent, Autonomous Transportation and Systems, Agriculture, Surveillance, and Environmental & Infrastructure Monitoring," he said
Expressing this delight to witness this technology advancement Pokhriyal said TiHAN Foundation, established at IIT Hyderabad, is a multi-departmental initiative, including researchers from Electrical, Computer Science, Mechanical and Aerospace, Civil, Mathematics, and Design at IIT Hyderabad with collaboration and support from reputed institutions and industry.
"It is a great step towards 'AtmaNibhar Bharat', 'Skill India' and 'Digital India', he said. With an essential focus on the research and development of interdisciplinary technologies in the specific domain area of "Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems," this hub focuses on addressing various challenges hindering the real-time adoption of unmanned autonomous vehicles for both terrestrial and aerial applications," he said.
Congratulating the TiHAN Team, Director IIT Hyderabad, Prof. B. S. Murty said one major requirement to make unmanned and connected vehicles more acceptable to the consumer society is to demonstrate their performance in real-life scenarios. "However, it may become dangerous. Especially in terms of safety, to directly use the operational roadway facilities as experimental test tracks for unmanned and connected vehicles. In general, both UAV and UGV testing may include crashes and collisions with obstacles, resulting in damage to costly sensors and other components. Hence, it is important to test new technologies developed in a safe, controlled environment before deployment," he said.
Two acres of land has already been allocated in the IIT Hyderabad campus and the facilities are planned in phases. All Smart poles are enabled with communication providing technology with some Poles designed with sprinklers to simulate rain scenarios. The developed testbed will be available for use by all the industries, R&D labs, academia conducting research and development in the broad areas of autonomous navigation.