Don't be surprised if you see a Tata vehicle driving itself in the near future. That's because the OEM has successfully developed connected and autonomous capabilities as part of a three-year project. Coventry-based, Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) has been running trials of a self-driving Tiago and an autonomous Hexa in the UK to perfect the technology.
TMETC, a subsidiary of Tata Motors, was created as a UK-based centre of excellence for automotive design and engineering located at the University of Warwick. TMETC provides research and development principally for Tata Motors.
As the UK Centre of Excellence in design and engineering for the Tata Motors passenger vehicle business in India, TMETC plans to focus its learning and future developments on controlled road environments. TMETC participated in the UK Autodrive project, co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, which brought together 15 partners including OEMs, cutting-edge engineering businesses, academia and progressive councils to explore the impact of ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared) technology, in a safe and controlled setting.
As part of the project, TMETC has successfully completed test trials on its Hexa SUV. While autonomous driving may be difficult to imagine in India currently, given its traffic conditions, autonomy will be a "consideration for the future in India", according to Tata Motors. Going forward, the OEM plans to introduce a "number of ADAS functionalities in a structured and phased manner".
“At Engineering Research Centre (ERC) we have been actively undertaking R&D work on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) as well as full vehicle autonomy in order to be future-ready. Road congestion, air pollution and road safety are acute concerns in India. We are likely to embrace connected, electric and shared technology sooner and therefore it is essential we remain at the forefront of these developments,” said Rajendra Petkar, chief technology officer, Tata Motors.
David Hudson, Head of Propulsion, TMETC, said, "This has been a challenging project but has enabled us to safely test our technologies on public roads in a real-world environment. We have to understand the challenging road usage pattern in India and apply that knowledge to this project. Our connectivity vehicle experience has enabled us to safely test and demonstrate numerous features including GLOSA (Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory) and EEBL (Electronic Emergency Brake Light).”
During the project, the technologies were tested on public roads. Communication between the vehicles and infrastructure was also achieved. Now, could the day be far when at least some of these technologies find their way into serial production cars?