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Indian Army’s AI Road Safety System

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The Indian Army has secured a patent for an artificial intelligence-driven accident prevention system. The system is primarily used for situations where drivers are susceptible to becoming drowsy while operating a vehicle. By promptly alerting drowsy drivers and addressing the hazard of accidents triggered by fatigue, the system holds the potential to save lives and significantly enhance road safety.

The patent was announced in a tweet, which emphasised the system’s ability to reduce accidents resulting from lapses in driver attentiveness due to drowsiness. According to a government report, the inventor behind the AI-powered accident prevention system is Colonel Kuldeep Yadav. The patent application was formally submitted on 2 February 2021. As per the patent certificate released by the Indian Army, its validity extends for a period of 20 years. The patent was officially approved on 11 July.

Prior to obtaining the patent, the device underwent thorough testing on buses operated by the state transport corporations of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The successful tests demonstrated the device’s adaptability for implementation in trucks, highlighting its potential to make a substantial contribution to road safety beyond its initial military application, the report said.

Recognising the increased dangers posed by driver fatigue and accidents, particularly in hilly regions, Colonel Kuldeep Yadav conceptualised and created the system. In 2021, more than 154,000 lives were lost in road accidents across the country. More than half of the accidents involving trucks were linked to drivers dozing off while driving.

Technology for a similar purpose was developed by the Indian Institute of Technology in Ropar (IIT-Ropar). It created an algorithm for driver drowsiness detection using machine learning and computer vision. The researchers used computer vision algorithms to extract facial features such as eye closure and yawning. They deployed machine learning techniques to effectively detect drivers’ alertness.

In India, where traffic congestion is becoming an increasingly pressing issue, the integration of AI holds significant promise. Priority areas for the technology’s applications include forensic post-crash investigations, identifying black spots, fatigue indicators, sleep detectors, and advanced vehicle collision avoidance systems.

In 2021, the Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari, launched iRaste (intelligent Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering), an AI algorithm in Nagpur city. As OpenGov Asia reported, it uses sensors to help the device map the dynamic risk of the entire road network (grey spot map) and alert the driver to take required remedial action.

Under the project, Nagpur Municipal Corporation vehicles or public transport vehicles were equipped with collision avoidance technology to reduce accidents and near misses by nearly 50%. The sensors identify high-risk regions along Nagpur roads to help agencies prevent and repair accident-prone zones or black spots. The AI system also helps collect and prioritise data such as road surface conditions, signage, marking, signal details, type of vehicles, models in use, and utility assets.

The same year, the Indian Institute of Technology in Mandi (IIT-Mandi) developed a smart road monitoring system. Students and faculty innovators at IIT-Mandi developed the system to prevent accidents caused by sharp or blind turns which lead to many fatalities, especially in hilly areas.

Previously deployed techniques like installing convex mirrors helped but were not very effective. The system invented by the IIT-Mandi team works through sensors that detect the speed, direction, gradient of the slope, and type of vehicle and signals the driver about the oncoming turn.

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