IIT Kharagpur is a name in itself which captures your attention and drives you to think about technology and research. It is not just limited to studies but the various research groups that have originated and flourished over the years. The immense hard work that students and the professors have put in, has led these groups to reach new heights and substantiate the legacy of the institute with their commendable achievements.
The ‘Autonomous Ground Vehicle research group’, better known as the AGV team has been doing the same from the past few years. The team’s main intention, as we can say, is being able to ‘capture and drive automatically’. It seems quite interesting how the gigantic bundles of knowledge on computing, machine learning, control systems and motion planning, among others, all work together to fulfil this motive. This knowledge has been effectively channelized, as it is a multi-disciplinary research group with separate teams working on separate subjects, classified as Software, EC, Mechanical, Web and Public Relations teams, but with one ultimate aim to reach. They currently have 9 working cars. 6 of them are indigenously made, including the Eklavya series which consists of 5 robots, and a Dune buggy. The rest 3 were procured from other platforms. They consist of a Mahindra e2o electric car, and two cars called the Husky and the Jackal.
The team is perpetually working to fulfil their aim of building a fully operational self-driving car. This is the same aim with which Dibyendu Ghosh, a PhD graduate of the institute, along with two other then-undergraduates, Nalin Gupta and Srinivas Reddy, started the AGV research group back in 2010. As stated by Dibyendu, this would not have been possible without the immense support from Prof. Debashish Chakravarti of Mining Engineering department, who is also the professor in-charge of the team. Ever since the group came into being, they have worked hard to improvise the techniques and bring about a revolution in the conventional way of looking at vehicles. This is evident from the various events in which they participated and proved their mettle.
IGVC AND MAHINDRA RISE PRIZE
AGV have participated annually in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) organized by AUVSI at Oakland University, Detroit since 2012, and have been doing exceptionally well with their Eklavya series of bots. In IGVC 2013, the team was placed 5th out of 56 teams from all around the world. Moreover, in IGVC 2015, they were the only team to represent India at the competition with the latest robot of their Eklavya series at that time, “Eklavya 4.0”. As of now, they are concentrating on the Mahindra Rise Prize Driverless Car Challenge whose first three stages have already been cleared and they have been awarded a Mahindra e2o electric car, which is being worked upon by them to be made driverless. The group innovates with the state of the art technologies in the fields of computer vision, path planning, sensor design and control systems, and vehicle design and dynamics.
This group which initially originated with Dibyendu Ghosh, using his scholarship money for its inception, now has various sources of funding. SRIC(Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy, IIT KGP) funds have helped them to procure some of the sensors, with which the leading driverless car manufacturers are working. Apparently, the recent funding from government for research on autonomous vehicles has motivated these young researchers. Although, expecting no constraints in funding is a far-fetched idea as the team faces issues when it comes to participation in some of the international competitions, as the project funding cannot be used for travel and logistics which require a huge budget in itself.
NOTABLE ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENTS
The skills that people learn and work upon here lead them to new accomplishments. This has been seen in the past when AGV members, Nalin, Jit and Srinivas started Auro and worked upon it for an year in Kharagpur who in turn, were selected by Y-Combinator and they moved to the US. Auro, now provides driverless shuttles for travel at large places such as universities and large industries. Therefore, the varied knowledge often leads people to develop new startup ideas and experiment with new things here. At present, the group has more than 40 students working together.
You can read more about them from their github page, which you can access by clicking here.