Microsoft Research has developed a smartphone-based driving test system that leverages the power of Artificial Intelligence to make a fair analysis of a driver's ability before issuing him or her a license.
The system has already been deployed at Dehradun Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Uttarakhand and is ready for wider adoption across the country and beyond, Microsoft said on Wednesday.
The technology that Microsoft developed to automate driver's license tests is called HAMS, which is short for Harnessing AutoMobiles for Safety.
"The main challenge in the traditional driver's license test is the burden placed on the human evaluators and the resulting subjectivity that a candidate faces," Venkat Padmanabhan, Deputy Managing Director, Microsoft Research India, who started the HAMS project in 2016, said in a statement.
"Automation using HAMS technology can not only help relieve evaluators of the burden but also make the process objective and transparent for candidates," Padmanabhan said.
Driver license testing is a pressing problem. For instance, a survey by SaveLIFE Foundation in India reported that a whopping 59 per cent of the respondents did not give a test to obtain a driving license.
HAMS, in its general incarnation, uses the smartphone's front and rear cameras, and other sensors, to monitor the driver (for instance, their gaze) and the road scene in front (for instance, the distance to the vehicle in front), simultaneously.
It employs advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) models, which the team has developed for efficient and robust operation.
For driving tests, HAMS has been customized to include capabilities such as precise tracking of the vehicle's trajectory during designated test manoeuvres, for instance, parallel parking or negotiating a roundabout.
This tracking enables HAMS to determine precisely, for instance, whether the driver stopped in the middle of a manoeuvre for longer than is permitted or tried to course correct by rolling forward and backward alternately more times than allowed.
Today, if you take the driver's license test at the Dehradun RTO, you will be doing so in just the company of a smartphone affixed to your car's windshield.
HAMS, running on the smartphone and on an edge server onsite at the testing track, will do the rest and produce a detailed report shortly after you finish navigating through the test manoeuvres.
"On an average, over 50 candidates take the HAMS-enabled automated license test every day at the Dehradun RTO. Due to the comprehensive nature of testing, just about 50 percent candidates pass the test, ensuring that only qualified drivers are given a driver's license," Akshay Nambi, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research India.