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India is the latest test bed for Intel Corp.’s automated driving solutions, with the US chip maker starting to gather data on traffic patterns, roadside behaviour and infrastructure conditions in the country.

The Mountain View, California-based company plans to use the data to create algorithms that could be used in India as well as overseas to promote automated driving, wherein the functions of driving and controlling a vehicle are performed by electronics and machine instead of a human driver. Intel is currently carrying out the projects in Telangana and Karnataka, which it plans to expand to Goa, said Jitendra Chaddah, director for strategic development and operations at Intel India. The company plans to prepare the algorithms to work in several local languages, he added.

Intel is hoping the algorithms developed in India would help to create a model for automated vehicles in markets such as Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Mexico, said Chaddah.

“Right now, we are working with the state governments of Karnataka and Telangana. We will also do it in Goa as the state has a lot of trees and these (trees) are not laned like in Europe... the trees are right on the roads," he said.

The company has partnered with the state governments as it needs their approvals to use the data that it does not own. Intel has also tied up with a few carmakers in India, Chaddah said, without elaborating.

India is among a handful of markets where Intel is implementing such programmes.

In January, Mobileye, an Intel company, Beijing Public Transport Corp. and Beijing Beytai announced that they were exploring a collaboration to commercially deploy autonomous public transport services in China. Intel said this marked a step in the journey towards a future of smart public transportation and enhanced urban mobility, powered by autonomous driving technology.

In October, Volkswagen Group, Mobileye and Champion Motors announced plans to deploy Israel’s first self-driving ride-hailing service—or Mobility-as-a-Service—starting 2019.

“These kind of studies are trigger points for vehicle manufacturers and tech companies to start working on projects related to self-driving cars," said Puneet Gupta, associate director at IHS Markit. “India is quite far away from the evolution of such technology but we have to go in that direction sometime. So it’s great some companies are working on such projects, since, if one can collect traffic and road infrastructure-related data, then it will have a positive impact on mobility sharing in the days to come and with introduction of 5G technology, this will change further."

Trials of driverless cars have already picked up steam in developed countries. Uber, Tesla, Audi, Google’s Waymo, Ford, BMW, Nissan and Toyota are among the companies working on autonomous vehicles. In October, Toyota president Akio Toyoda and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son unveiled an alliance called Monet to develop businesses that will use driverless-car technology for new services. SoftBank has also alloted $2.25 billion to General Motors’ autonomous vehicle efforts.

In India, Intel is working on a collision avoidance solution by doing “grey spot mapping", which are areas where accidents can occur on roads. This solution helps civic authorities improve infrastructure and alert drivers.

Autonomous driving or a driverless car is touted to be the most advanced form of mobility. It not only dispenses with the utility of a driver, but also uses airwaves and sensors to communicate with other cars on the road in sending signals about their speed, timing and frequency of brake application, change of lanes, etc. Yet, a breakthrough that will allow for mass use of this concept has not really emerged.

Malyaban Ghosh in New Delhi contributed to this story.

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