Making the roadways safer is something which has always garnered a lot of attention in public policy management. Traffic accidents are on the rise and the growing number of fatalities are a result of distracted driving.
So many factors are at play on the road and self driving cars are the way out for those looking for safety and security. But India has banned driverless cars on the premise that automation brings monumental job losses with it.
1. Computer as an Ideal Motorist
In comparison to the problems faced by manual drivers behind the wheel, the computer makes no mistakes. Error free driving is the promise of a driverless car.
Estimates suggest nearly 80 percent of car crashes are due to human error. Using a computer driven car can take this error margin out of the equation.
Computers use complex algorithms to assess distance from other vehicles, appropriate distance to be maintained while stopping and lowering the chances of car accidents dramatically.
There are no chances for the computer to be distracted, a leading cause of accidents across the world and in India.
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Driverless cars would actually increase productivity. There would be not just cost but time savings and humans can focus on other tasks while the car does the job of driving itself.
This is also an eco-friendly mode of transport because driverless cars significantly enhance traffic conditions and lower congestion, thereby limiting gasoline usage. Large cities are often facing problems of connectivity as public transport options are limited. This void could be filled by driverless cars.
Motor impairments or handicaps will not stand in the way of driverless cars. These cars can be used by those with impairments to drive safely on the road, with lower chances of error and more advantages.
6. Good for the Economy
Companies are interested in fresh products and innovation always takes the industry forward. This is evident in the context of driverless cars, with features like automatic driving, autonomous braking, self parking and sensors.
7. Better Law Enforcement
Driverless cars would reduce the incidence of driving errors.
Massive savings would be incurred on older mass transit projects like trams and rail, and the police could move out of traffic management to tackle other crimes.
1. Driver still required
Just using the self driving car would require education and training on the part of the driver. When the computer takes over once the car is operational, the driver will have to maintain knowledge about safe operations.
2. New technology is costly
Additionally, cost of implementing new technology could be out of reach for the average Indian. Engineering, power and computer requirements, software and sensors add up to USD 100,000 currently.
3. No guarantee people will opt for It
Most savings in cost, lives and time will be gained only when people opt for the service. If self driving cars are not widely adopted, accidents will take place despite the presence of technology.
4. Privacy concerns
For computers to operate a vehicle, a lot of information is stored in the computer. Loss of personal data if hackers get a hold of the car and additional safety concerns on account of this can cause a real problem.
5. Bad for employment
Self driving cars would eliminate jobs in the public transport system. This includes freight and cab drivers. This could not just impact the employment rate adversely, but also trigger a negative impact for the economy, as automation would trigger a massive job loss.
6. Complicated legal ramifications
A self driving car cannot eliminate the likelihood of an accident. Does the plaintiff hold the driver, car manufacturer or software developer responsible? If technology fails, there is no guarantee driverless cars can prevent accident.
If technology such as traffic signals fail, there is no accounting for driverless cars which would not respond to human signals. When a police officer directs the traffic, the car cannot interpret human signals.
Hackers, technology issues, cost efficiency, unemployment– the list of negatives against driver less cars stacks up high. In a labour intensive economy like India, where the percentage of the working population, especially unskilled labour is high.
We cannot afford to introduce technology that will harm their chances of landing a job.
Public transport sector has many subsidiary industries linked to it such as manufacturing as well. Using driverless cars will impact the economy negatively in more ways than one.
Considering the technology shortcomings of Indian roads, are driverless cars even a possible alternative, given that traffic signal malfunctions are common on our roads? From the practical and economic point of view, driverless cars are clearly not the right option for India at the present juncture.
India has to deal with many problems like low literacy levels and poverty. Technology will help here.