Minus Zero, an innovative artificial intelligence (AI) startup headquartered in Bengaluru, has introduced India’s inaugural self-driving car, zPod. CEO Gagandeep Reehal highlighted the potential of true vision autonomy in making autonomous vehicles a reality, addressing major mobility challenges during the vehicle’s launch.
Founded by Reehal and Gursimran Kalra in 2021, Minus Zero secured $1.7 million in seed funding from a range of investors, including Chiratae Ventures, Snow Leopard Ventures, IIT Mandi, and angel investors.
Introducing zPod: India’s First Autonomous Car
Distinguished by the absence of a steering wheel, zPod utilizes strategically positioned high-resolution cameras to analyze driving conditions and traffic. A camera-sensor suite captures the vehicle’s surroundings, sharing the data with the embedded AI system. Through image processing, the AI enables zPod to control speed, navigate obstacles, and halt as needed. Minus Zero asserts that the self-driving car can achieve “Level 5” autonomy, representing the highest degree of autonomy ever attained by a vehicle.
This level of autonomy eliminates the requirement for human intervention. Presently, zPod is deemed suitable for operation within enclosed and controlled areas, such as large residential complexes or campuses, according to Minus Zero.
Founders Focus on Tech, Not Car Production
Minus Zero’s primary goal is to provide technology that enhances advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The founders clarified in an interview with Business Today that zPod serves as a demonstration of the company’s AI-based autonomous vehicle technology, rather than a sign of plans to manufacture cars.
Reehal emphasized, “We are not an OEM; we do not plan to build cars. It is a vehicle developed to showcase the system we have built.” The founders firmly believe that the concept of autonomous vehicles necessitates collaboration across the entire ecosystem. They envision their concepts enabling automakers to explore new design possibilities, moving away from driver-centric constraints and towards user-focused experiential design.
With the introduction of zPod, Minus Zero is positioning India at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology, showcasing the tremendous potential of true vision autonomy and opening doors for future advancements in the mobility landscape.