tldr; adas for two wheeler.
The biggest reason for autonomous vehicles to exist is safety. And while level 4 and 5 autonomy are eagerly awaited and make the most news, level 2 (which are driving assistance systems) have been a reality for many years now in western markets. Autonomous Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) are already multi-billion dollar industries. While we don’t see much of these in India due to cost considerations, it is just a matter of time when they come here. However, startups in the west are focused on 4-wheelers.
This June, the number of 2-wheelers sold in India was more than 4 times all the 4 wheelers put together (18+ lakh vs 4 point something). This is a space that no valley based startup is going to solve for India. It is a minuscule market in the western countries where 2-wheelers are recreational vehicles unlike in India (and many other emerging markets) where they are commuting vehicles. This is an interesting space where an Indian startup could create a global solution by focusing on a very local problem.
How does one think of a solution in this space — obviously cost is a concern (most vehicles are under $1000) and the form factor of the vehicle is very different too. The driving assistance technology should not become a distraction that worsens the problem. The answer would lie in the helmet.
The only way to give ADAS cues inside a helmet such that the rider doesn’t take her eyes off the road, is to use heads-up displays. One can imagine an integrated solution where sensors are integrated with a vehicle and communicating with the visuals on the helmet through a wireless technology like bluetooth or it could be a completely independent solution with sensors integrated on the helmet itself. The latter solution can be most interesting since this could make any 2-wheeler a smart one with ADAS. A startup doesn’t need to tie up with specific OEMs and be restricted to a few brands to offer this solution. It also increases the value for a rider since the solution can get shared or used across vehicles.
While Ati is focused on a B2B market, we keep thinking of interesting problems in the space and since this blog has many readers interested in the overall autonomous market, hopefully someone will pick on this line of thought to make this a reality. Getting the energy, compute, sensors together with the thermal constraints worked in the form factor of a helmet seems like an awesome problem to crack.