Nitin Gadkari, the minister for road transport and highways, has reportedly said that autonomous or driverless cars will not be allowed in India as it will cost thousands of jobs.
While Gadkari is an ardent proponent of electric vehicles, he said, “No driverless cars will be allowed in India. The government is not going to promote any technology or policy that will make people jobless.”
Based on statistics from the transport ministry, India has a shortage of about 2.2 million drivers and driving skills can provide employment to a total of around 5 million.
“Cab aggregators like Ola and Uber are making money by using our driving skills. If cab aggregators think they can make more money by introducing technology like driverless cars and render people unemployed, the government is not going to allow it,” he emphasised.
While the government may be mulling disallowing the autonomous technology, it remains to be seen if driverless cars can run in India in the near future. Most manufacturers like Renault and Google (also working on driverless tech) have ruled out these cars running on our roads anytime soon. Autonomous driving requires proper infrastructure like lane markings, signage, etc., something which is below par even in our urban areas.
The statement is also ironic considering autonomous cars have the potential to drastically reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities on India’s roads. Reports by the Indian government in 2016 revealed that at least 410 people lose their lives to road accidents every day. Most incidents are due to driver errors, including drunk driving, jumping traffic lights, sudden lane changes and more. The introduction of driverless cars could help the government achieve its stated target of reducing fatalities by 50 percent in the next three years.