32nd years of National Road Safety Week campaign, and question arises have we really improved as a society? How many more safety week/month campaigns would we need to achieve GOI’s target of zero death or achieving zero fatality in road accidents. India accounts for 11% of fatalities worldwide and data from 2019 shows that pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheelers are at the higher risk. Over 400 people are killed and over 1200 people get injuries on everyday basis in India and no wonder we would like to top in every domain. As per the Road Accident Report for 2019, 449K accidents took place leading to 151,113 deaths and 451,361 injuries across India. The numbers are definitely improved compared to 2018 reports in terms of 3.86% for the numbers of accidents while accident-related deaths have improved by 0.20% and injuries by 3.86%. The major reason reported is amendment in Motor Vehicle Act 1988 in 2019 as well as stiff hike in penalties for traffic violations as well as enforcement of law. Further analysis of data is shows 35.7% of deaths happened on national highways, 24.8% of deaths happened on state highways & 39% of deaths on other roads.
This gives indication that severity of accidents leading to death has nothing to do much with highway or city driving, it’s almost contributing to the same level. This also raises a question that with law enforcement on city roads by installing surveillance cameras can solve problems at some extent, will it lead to long-term solution of road safety concerns of the nation or world. Globally the stats are very similar and severe as in India. How do we make the societies safer, by increasing penalties, by amending laws, by technologies or by psychological shift in mindset of people while driving? One way is to remove human drivers and put robots to do the job but then we have employment concerns and robots have not yet learnt enough to survive. In terms of driving, we are living with two extremes, one way we have huge numbers of road accidents, deaths and using generation old vehicles and nearly zero adoption of technology to help and on the other hand the same technology has reached a stage in other part of globe where they are preparing, learning for driving and it’s doing the job at some level. There seems to be a large gap between these two extremes and we need a bridge to fill-in and help the transition. That bridge is nothing but the larger adoption of ADAS & implementation of ADAS with Telematics.
ADAS — Little Technical
ADAS aka Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. The first car with ADAS features was launched in 2000s in USA. The major component forming an ADAS are camera & radars. The ADAS according to SAE J3016 levels of automation is at Level 1 i.e., second level and Level 2 which defines partial automation. The Level 0/1/2 defines that even if the vehicle has all these features of braking the vehicle, accelerating the vehicle or adaptive cruise control, human drivers are must and from Level 3 to 5, human drivers are supposed to drive only when technology asks you to do so.
In a very brief way, ADAS is something which helps you to drive using technology like camera, radar and sometimes it relieves you from the driving and takes a charge. What ADAS does is sense, process, connect, map & drive. The sense part is done with proximity sensors, cameras in quantity of 1 to 8 depending on the level of complexity and use case, radars in quantity from 1 to 4. The process part is taken care for small sensors by ECUs & for cameras and take real-time decision-making GPUs are utilized. The connectivity is expected to be from 2G to 4G & will turn to 5G in near future which is expected to change the autonomy infrastructure. The mapping is handled by APIs & it is also depending on the complexity level and feature requirements for specific use cases. The actuators are for driving the vehicles and applying brakes when necessary. To have successful implementation of ADAS we also need to have cloud infrastructure for data processing and analysis.
ADAS adoption is the key
The world is heading towards complete autonomy and as described earlier, ADAS is a one of the key elements of the incremental autonomy. What do you think will be the trigger point towards transition to autonomy? This is very interesting part of the market adoption is very uncertain and in the times of data and communication the success of anything depends on how well it is being received by the audience. If we compare the stats, COVID-19 killed 150K people in the country in a year’s time since March 2020. Road accidents reports share the same numbers. COVID has accelerated technological adoption in different categories of industry by 10 years but the same is not happening for the case of ADAS.
Ideally, all things are related. OEMs are going the ADAS way to improve the road safety, government is trying to enforce laws to improve road safety, one has a barrier of cost of adoption and other has barrier of mindset for following the rules for the sack of society. Both of these barriers can be lowered down by trying for larger adoption of ADAS in all the vehicles. Currently, in India around 6% of the vehicles come with ADAS as built-in feature which is very less to trigger a change.
The technological advancements in the domains of telematics are heading towards the ADAS. In my previous month article named “Changing face of telematics …”, I had mentioned that how ADAS can gradually progressed to autonomy and how the software stack for autonomy can be used for building ADAS & telematics. In the case of ADAS the technology is ready, but deployment and adoption at larger level is missing. The root causes are cost and ROI against it. The most common person in world will always think of the ROI at first, when you ask someone that you install the device of x amount and it’ll help you save from accidents may be once or twice in a year. This is not going to help businesses to sell the product because selling safety is very difficult in cost conscious markets like India where the first question asked is how I’ll benefit from this and what do I get from this.