Self-driving cars are all the rage right now around the world. With several countries pushing for self-drive technology. Well-known firms are making the headlines by introducing their own versions of the self-drive technology. From Tesla to Google, self-drive seems the likely future of the transport. However, it’s not for India. As its Transport minister, Nitin Gadkari announced in a press conference that India will ban self-drive cars to protect jobs.
The statement is not from the point of view of safety or regulations. Moreover, it is the result of minister’s concerns with self-drive technology taking away the jobs in the country. He said in a press statement that India will not allow any technology that would take away the jobs. In a country where there is unemployment, you cannot have such technology that snatches away people’s jobs. However, he also mentioned that India is facing a shortage of 22,000 commercial drivers in the country, the government is looking forward to establishing training institutes. Further, the target to achieve 5,000 more commercial drivers in five years is a goal for employment creation.
In the mean time, the then Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick and Google’s CEO Sunder Pichai did make statements stating that India will not have their driver-less cars anytime soon. In fact, India’s traffic constraints and loose enforcement of rules and regulations do not allow for the technology to take shape in India.
Further, India is a big market for the automobile industry. And was always a good place for driverless cars, provided that the traffic and road conditions improved in time. India is far from its promise of providing better conditions for the human drivers. Let alone a self-drive technology.
However, in between all these issues. The Indian conglomerate, Tata Industries is interested in the concept for driverless cars in India. It has named this project Elxsi. Tata is developing the technology keeping in mind the requirements specific for the Indian roads and driving conditions. It has started the testing in closed track fields. The testing grounds resemble the Indian roads and the traffic. Amazingly the road conditions are designed keeping the pedestrians and livestock on the tracks. Moreover, it also covers the possibilities of unsignaled lane mergers and a drastic lack of signages.
The initiative by Tata is commendable. India is a tough market for the self-drive cars. It has its own unique set of issues. India will ban self-drive cars and time will tell its impact on the home grown technology in this field.