Microsoft introduces Project HAMS to automate driver’s license tests in India

Microsoft today announced their latest Project involving Artificial Intelligence and it’s called Project HAMS. The latest project aims to improve and automate the driver’s license tests and is being implemented in India.

Project HAMS (Harnessing AutoMobiles for Safety) has been deployed by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Dehradun in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. It replaces a trainer/evaluator with a smartphone docked on the windshield of the test car. Driving tests in India is a huge problem as citizens usually go for loopholes that allow them to obtain driving licenses without actually giving a driving test. According to the latest survey by SaveLIFE Foundation, a whopping 59% of the respondents never gave a driving test to obtain a license.

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. Automation using HAMS technology can not only help relieve evaluators of the burden but also make the process objective and transparent for candidates.

– Venkat Padmanabhan, Deputy Managing Director, Microsoft Research India

With HAMS, Microsoft aims to simplify the driving test process while innovating it at the same time. To make the project a reality in India, Microsoft has partnered with Institute of Driving and Traffic Research (IDTR) which is a joint venture between the Department of Transport of State Governments and Maruti Suzuki India Limited.

As mentioned above, HAMS uses a smartphone docked to the windshield of the car and collects data points using different sensors and the front and rear camera. The front and rear cameras will monitor the driver as well as the road conditions in front of the car. The smartphone will also collect data points which include the precise tracking of the vehicle’s trajectory during designated test manoeuvres, for instance, parallel parking or negotiating a roundabout. The smartphone will then send the data to an onsite server which will use AI to analyse the data. Microsoft also noted that HAMS will record the whole process and will allow candidates to view recording of the whole test later.

The successful deployment of the HAMS-based driver license testing at the Dehradun RTO is a significant step towards the Transport Department’s goal of providing efficient, world-leading services to the citizens of Uttarakhand. We are proud to be among the pioneers of the application of AI to enhance road safety.

– Shri Shailesh Bagauli, IAS, Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand

At Microsoft Research India, we have been studying the role of technology in solving significant societal problems for over a decade now. The implementation of HAMS for driver license testing is a great example of the innovative use of AI to create transparent and efficient processes that ultimately help people, and improve road safety for all of us. I congratulate the Dehradun RTO and its administrators for being pioneers in this area.

– Sriram Rajamani, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India

Microsoft said they will analyse the success of the trial in Dehradun and implement the system nation-wide soon. The company is also eying on a global deployment but it might be a while before your driving test is assessed by an AI.

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