While the global automobile industry is currently pushing towards developing impeccable self-driving systems that work in the real world, Union Minister for Road and Transport Nitin Gadkari has stated that driverless cars cannot be allowed in India. Road conditions in Indian are currently not favourable for driverless cars and now government policies are taking the same direction. Speaking at Tech and Auto Awards on 18 December, Gadkari said: “driverless cars cannot be allowed now. India first needs to provide jobs to everybody. I am open to discussion but I don’t think that is a priority now.”
The minister further elaborated that the need of the hour in India is electric vehicles that are less polluting and more energy-efficient than cars running on conventional fossil fuels, adding that driverless cars would affect jobs of cab drivers.
“We need technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, and electronics. But, at the same time, we have to protect the employment of the country’s youth,” Gadkari added.
In September this year, Union Minister for Road and Highway Transport said at the 2018 SIAM conference that the government is working towards introducing a mandate which will bring Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) in all cars by 2022.
Now even at face value, and considering the given timeline, this seems like a tall order. Intelligent driver assist programs are expensive to install, and will greatly add to the floor price of cars across the spectrum if this is bought in place.
ADAS or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems use artificial intelligence to monitor both outside and in-car environments to ensure driver errors are reduced to an absolute minimum.
At present top-shelf manufacturers, the likes of Volvo and Mercedes are the only ones offering real advanced assistance systems like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance and automatic braking. We expect this to trickle-down into more mass-market cars as time goes by.