Self-Driving Cars in India is a topic that is currently being highly debated. India has proven itself to be a great market for almost all of the latest entries in the consumer segment. Hence, it is no doubt that India with its massive collection of public transport savvy population would welcome the Self-Driving Cars with its arms wide open.
Yet another reason that would support Self-Driving Cars in India is the fact that a vast majority of the Indian Population still rely on Public Transportation. Hence Self-Driving, especially as a means of public transport, can be expected to be a huge success in India.
This is even more supplemented by evidence of Uber’s success in India. Though many people were highly skeptical about whether Uber would be successful in India, Uber was indeed able to carve a major niche for itself in India’s Public Transportation Segment. Uber India was also seen as posting a 10% increase in revenue in the 2017 financial year as compared to that of 2016.
From a business standpoint, the presence of Self-Driving Cars in India makes a lot of sense. However, the business justifications for having a technology alone are never sufficient. What is equally important is the presence of adequate infrastructural set up for implementing and maximizing the effectiveness of the business use cases. Hence, the real question would now be on the practicality of Self-Driving Cars in India.
The roads and traffic system in India does pose a challenge to the functioning of Self-Driving Cars. A considerable portion of the Indian roads is narrow and densely populated. Also, not all the roads in India are governed by Traffic Systems. There are lots of congested roads that are still left unmonitored.
Self-Driving Cars such as the Waymo, for example, were developed and tested in the different parts of the United States, particularly Phoenix, Arizona and more recently California. These places have far better infrastructure and Traffic Surveliance as compared to Indian Roads. To be honest, the traffic here in these test locations are more disciplined and ordered.
Travis Kalanick, the then Uber CEO in an interview with the NDTV, was quoted as saying, “The last place the driverless cars are massive is gonna be India. The reason is that those streets are difficult. Its gonna have to be a pretty smart vehicle to navigate on those streets”. There is gonna have to be major advances in Artificial Intelligence to navigate through the streets of India.
Travis also touched upon the fact that Self-Driving Cars will reduce the traffic in India by a significant amount. He cited the example of how driverless cars would actually bring down the traffic in Delhi and how people would get back millions of seconds of their life. Even if the Self-Driving Technology gets implemented in India, there will always have to be manually driven transportation in India since the driverless cars may not be able to navigate through all the streets of India.
Travis does have a major point here. India has a lot of congested roads. Most of this traffic is caused due to poorly implemented roadways and also negligence from the side of the people in obeying Traffic Rules. The introduction and commercialization of Self-Driving Technology will definitely bring down the traffic and make the Indian roads a safer place to be.
However, apart from the strong business use cases that justify the success of Self-Driving Cars in India, the country will definitely need to have well defined infrastructural frameworks to ensure the streamlined implementation and operation of Self-Driving Cars.
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