In a country where one serious road accident takes place every minute and 16 people die on Indian roads every hour, can Google’s autonomous cars bring down the rampant number of death on Indian roads?
In the US, LA may be one of the most traffic-congested cities, there are other major US cities where car drivers suffer from nasty traffic congestions regularly—–San Francisco, Honolulu, New York, Seattle, San Jose, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Portland, as per the annual traffic index conducted by navigation system maker TomTom in Burlington, Mass. Car owners in the US have a reason to smile now! Google’s self-driving car running on test drives will be launched for the public within 2 to 5 years (as per Chris Umrson, head of driver-less cars, Google) ! In January 2015, Google announced it had begun discussions with most of the world’s top automakers to speed up its efforts of launching self-driving cars in the market by 2020.
Google believes that these smart robotic cars will reduce accidents due to errors made by human drivers owing to its robotic system for which drivers won’t need to worry about distractions and typical reaction time. This belief found roots this summer when the search giant revealed that its driverless cars has completed 300,000 miles of testing without a single incident.
While there is still some way before the cars hit the road in terms of testing hours and implementation of legal framework and establishment of government regulations for self-driving cars, the making is in the process. While India’s minister of road transport and highways seems to think that it is not possible to copy cent percent road safety laws similar to countries like the US, UK or Canada, one cannot deny the rising road accident deaths in the country. With rising affluence, owning a car is no longer a luxury in India. India may have more cars but it also has bad drivers, poor regulations, and faulty road designs. Speeding, running lights, drunken driving, riding motorcycles without helmets, and lane violations are commonplace.
While it looks like a long way before the robotic cars can start operating in India! Apart from technology and legislation, road infrastructure, poor traffic rules and bad traffic, there may be some boon in the idea of test-driving Google cars in India.
Why? The Indian auto industry is one of the largest in the world with an annual production of 21.48 million vehicles in FY 2013-14. Technology exchange and robotic cars can bring down the number of road accidents.
What do think? Is India ready for Google cars?