I have often written here that if the companies developing driverless cars really want to test the guts of their algorithms, they should train their software on Indian roads rather than American or European roads.
But, here’s a bit of sad news for you: the Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who is visiting India these days, has explicitly said that no driverless cars for India. The same was said a few days ago by the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick – no driverless cars for India.
It’s not that these technology heads have a bias against India and actually, it would make business sense for any technology company, especially investing in transportation technologies, to bet on India heavily, it’s just that, when you drive on Indian roads, you experience complete lawlessness.
It’s full chaos theory in action. Once you are on the road, nothing makes sense. Even on the crossings when the red lights and the green lights are working, nobody gives a damn what light it is. It’s survival of the fittest, the nastiest and the brutest. Even the traffic police don’t know that it’s illegal to break rules when driving.
Even if you are ever stopped by the police while driving, it is not because you are breaking any rules, it is because the jolly policemen are making provisions for the evening (chicken-daaroo ka intzaam, in the vernacular, which means, making provisions for chicken and whiskey in the evening).
Driverless cars can work where the roads are smooth and people follow traffic rules. Both these attributes are missing in India. In fact, breaking traffic rules is a badge of honour for most Indians. If people see a driverless car in India, they will honk at it, they will bang into it just for the heck of it.
Driverless cars will work in India if 99.99% car owners switched to them, if we have driverless autos, if we have driverless trucks, if we have driverless buses, if we have driverless tempos, if we have driverless motorbikes (very important) and if we have driverless scooters. Unless that happens, no driverless cars for India.