In what may come as a jolt to the automobile industry worldwide, Indian Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, citing unemployment concerns, made it clear that he will not be allowing driverless cars to cruise on Indian roads. His remarks come at a time when countries around the world are still debating the merits and demerits of a driverless mode of transportation with rules and regulations for self-driving cars still being set up. Incidentally, India's Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which is yet to be passed in the upper house of the parliament of India, has a clause exempting certain vehicles from abiding by the general regulatory guidelines, which make it mandatory to have a person behind the steering wheel at all times, in order to drive technological innovation and encourage research and development in the automobile sector.
Nitin Gadkari also mentioned a shortage of 2.2 million commercial drivers in the country and made it known that the government plans to setup 100 driver training centers which will provide employment to 500,000 people over the course of the next five years. Although Gadkari's decision to ban driverless cars seems absolute, automobile experts are yet hopeful of seeing automated driving vehicles on Indian roads provided that the technology is properly debated upon and tested thoroughly. The experts were also keen to speculate the impact driverless cars may have on employment and the economy of a country in general and deemed it to be one of the decisive factors in its implementation in India and around the world.
Abdul Majeed, the automotive leader at Price Waterhouse & Co stated the need to find a balance between the augment in technology and the threat of unemployment which looms over people affected by it. He was quick to point out that India, by no means is ready for a technological shift on such a grand scale and needs to overcome various obstacles before the dream of a self driving future materializes. The self-driving automobile industry is turning out to be the latest fad among startups and giants alike with companies ranging from Lyft to Samsung all vying for a piece of the pie. With companies relentlessly pursuing the idea of an automated future, it yet remains to be seen how various countries will react to a technology which may turn out to be the biggest revolution since the commercialization of computers that directly threatens the local employment of a nation.