I came across an article regarding Self Driving Cars and was thoroughly impressed with the idea. Look at the creativity & ideation involved. It’s a boon for people who can’t drive and have to depend on others for commuting. But I shudder to think what would be the fate of these Driverless Cars on Indian roads and driving styles?
The driverless cars are cautious. They are programmed to drive with caution. With streets in India filled with drivers honking , more so, by force of habit. I am left wondering what would be the fate of these cars on Indian roads. Are they programmed to respond to these honks? On such noisy roads they would need to be programmed to ignore these.
These autonomous vehicles do react strongly to objects very close to the curb. The right distance between your car and the vehicle going before you is the one where you can see all its four wheels. But the streets & cities in India are laced with bumper-to-bumper traffic. I guess the driverless vehicle will be overwhelmed by such crowding and will need a trouble-shooting patch to deal with it.
These cars wait for visual cue from pedestrians to either stop or go. Roads are not restricted to use by humans but by poultry and farm animals too. We know far too well that buffaloes usually don’t budge even in the face of a speeding vehicle. I wonder what visual cue these animals can provide to our autonomous vehicle to steer its path away from it.
These cars use a mixture of 3D laser mapping, GPS and radar to analyze and interpret their surroundings. The radar allows the car to see through objects rather than relying on line of sight. They are known to halt for vehicles concealed behind a row of hedges. So I guess situations such as dogs rushing to bark in front of moving vehicles will be well handled by these cars. But would they have the intelligence to move forward ignoring these barks like our talented Indian drivers?
These cars can’t be driven in snow, heavy rain or other situations like construction zones. In Indian metros still picking the pace for infrastructure development, construction would be a speed breaker at several places. How would these cars proceed then? Signs like diversions, pot holes every few metres, broken speed breakers, vehicles coming on the wrong side are situations that have now become a way of life. How would these self driving vehicles react to these situations?
This technology is unbelievably amazing but to adapt it to Indian roads requires specialized skills which only a resident local can envision. Yes, Sundar Pichai is probably far too aware of these facts, but unfortunately Google is not going to make driverless cars anymore. This business has been separated from Google and the individual endeavors will have its CEO run things as he sees fit. We would love to see India getting its own driverless cars sometime in the near future but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it anytime soon. What would probably expedite this idea is “Make in India – Make for India”, so lets keep our fingers crossed on this one.