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AI-Powered Road Safety Project Launched in Nagpur, India

The Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari, recently launched iRaste (intelligent Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering), an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm in Nagpur city. iRaste aims to reduce accidents by half in the city, which is the largest in the Vidarbha district in Maharashtra. The technology 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.

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

A report stated that while a similar programme was tried out in a few cities elsewhere, the scale of deployment of the Nagpur project is what stands out. About 350 buses will install the palm-sized device on the dashboard and connect it to a camera. Project iRASTE will conduct detailed studies to recommend engineering fixes for existing black spots and implement an AI-powered system for the continuous monitoring of road infrastructure quality.

According to another report, the crash severity index, which is found by calculating fatalities and serious injuries in an accident, in Nagpur was 21.22 in 2018, 24.83 in 2019, and 70.17 in 2020. About 1,500 accidents occur in Nagpur every year, claiming at least 250 lives. An official claimed that iRASTE will go a long way in creating a blueprint for the country to prevent road accidents. iRaste was collaboratively developed by the central government, private tech giantS, the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad (IIIT-Hyderabad), the Central Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI), and the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC). The project will aid vehicle safety, mobility analysis, and road infrastructure safety.

Private players contributed onboard systems based on advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) technology, CSIR-CRRI provided its domain expertise in road engineering and IIIT-Hyderabad conducted AI-based research to address population-scale road safety through the INAI centre for applied AI research. An industry expert noted that technologies such as AI will play a transformational role in enabling smarter and safer vehicles, roads, and drivers. The project aims to re-imagine road safety with the predictive power of AI. The ADAS alerts alongside driver assessments and training can notably improve driver performance. Mobility analysis will continuously monitor dynamic risks of the entire road network to define grey and black spots. The preventive maintenance of these stretches will avert blackspots before lives are lost.

Earlier, the Indian Institute of Technology in Mandi (IIT-Mandi) developed a smart road monitoring system that aims to minimise the risk of road accidents. IIT-Mandi developed the system to prevent accidents caused by sharp or blind turns which lead to many fatalities, especially in hilly areas. As OpenGov Asia reported, the system works through sensors that detect the speed, direction, gradient of the slope, and type of vehicle and signals the driver about the oncoming turn. The system costs less than IN20,000 (US$269) excluding the alerting units per curve. However, the innovators are currently working on the commercial aspects and trying to bring down the overall product cost, by lowering operating and maintenance costs, and utilising alternative energy sources to make the system self-sustainable using solar energy.

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