Tata Elxsi Boldly Goes Where No Self-Driving Car Has Gone Before: India

The automotive supplier wants to test autonomous vehicles in chaotic Bangalore traffic.

byLiane Yvkoff|
Tata Elxsi Boldly Goes Where No Self-Driving Car Has Gone Before: India


Because of its chaotic streets, India will be the last place on Earth Uber intendeds to bring its self-driving cars, joked CEO Travis Kalanick in an interview with Indian television station NDTV.

"There's going to have to be major, major advances in AI to navigate the streets of India," Kalanick said in an interview, explaining long lead time of replacing taxi drivers with self-driving cars.

But not every company is so reluctant.

Indian automotive technology and design firm Tata Elxsi is seeking permission from the government to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in Bangalore. The supplier has retrofitted two Tata vehicles with Lidar, ultrasonic sensors, radars, cameras, vehicle-to-everything technology, and artificial intelligence platform, and has already been testing the vehicles on the outskirts of Karnataka's capital—home to many technology companies' Indian headquarters.

Navigating India's often unmarked streets, loosely observed traffic laws, and free-range mammals would be the ultimate stress test for any autonomous vehicle company—even Google has expressed skepticism over introducing the technology to the traffic-challenged country.

"I don't think for a country like India you are gonna see, as Travis said, completely automated cars. But just like technology assisting humans, we make cars over time so that they are safer, the driving experience is comfortable, and people's quality of life improves and overall society improves because the cars are shared better," said Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

But just because Silicon Valley technology giants aren't yet interested in the challenge, doesn't mean that others aren't interested.

Like many automotive suppliers, Tata Elixis is currently exploring many advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and recently showcased a range of its products at the 2017 CES, including Autonomai--Tata Elxsi's autonomous vehicle middleware platform.