India is a country of a billion plus people with a huge number of cars on the road. According to a report, our country holds a grave third place in the list of countries that have the maximum number of deaths in a road accident.
Many doyens in the field of automobiles believe that autonomous cars or IoT cars are the key to bring this number down drastically as it is obvious that human errors do not happen when the machines take over the task of driving.
Why does our country need automation?
A report by NASSCOM states that the market of Indian Internet of Things (IoT) is projected to rise to USD 15 billion in the year 2020, from the present value of USD 5.6 billion. This justifies the fact that there is a huge potential for such driverless cars or automated cars in India.
Needless to say, India does have the Information Technology as well as the Analytical Skills that are a basic pre-requisite to make car automation a reality as well as a successful venture.
Connectivity is of prime importance here; the elemental criteria of tracking vehicles and also the fool-proof method of providing people with cars or other vehicles at the required time is a necessity. There must, undoubtedly, be a strong teamwork and concurrence amongst different sectors – the mobile network provider, the automobile company, the cloud service provider, etc. There is a huge scope of income generation in such scenarios to everyone involved in the venture, whether it is the GPS provider, map-provider, Value Added Services provider or the Mobile Company. The functions of each of these should be seamless and error-free for this system to be a resounding success across the nation.
The effectiveness of the autonomous vehicles depend largely on data; how quickly the data is collected, collated, interpreted and transmitted to other agencies for a pot-hole free ride. The success, of course, will majorly depend on infrastructure such as better roads, charging stations, laws or regulations, traffic systems such as ETCs, signals, etc., emergency response systems in case of a vehicle having problems and the like. There is a need also to formulate a legal scenario and also new forms of claims in motor insurance cases.
How are the companies doing it elsewhere?
For many years now, car makers have been making cars in the format known to mankind. But this changed, when GM’s Cruise Automation unit revealed the brand new version of its driverless car; the manual controls were removed in it.
The first step for the car giants will be a huge paradigm shift in the way business is done – they have been selling cars for ages; now they will need to sell rides instead. The profits that each car generates for the manufacturer could be a big amount of money – electric cars will cost less in the long run and moreover, they won’t need petrol or diesel to fuel them up. The cars being autonomous will not need the services of drivers, which is another chunk of money saved. All of these contributing factors will further lower the cost of production.
Reality in India
Highly automated vehicles in India currently do have plenty of features that are completely automatic – radars, sensors, etc. Though many do share the opinion of the experts that automated vehicles are a good thing for the country, they also admit that the total absence of human touch is an uphill task though definitely feasible and sustainable in the years to come.
Safety is the primary concern on everyone’s minds when it comes to automation. Increased fears of cyber-attacks or hacking are proving to be a deterrent in the path to being autonomous. Add to this, the woes that any person who has driven a vehicle in India will understand and relate to – the confusion and pandemonium created by us humans knowingly or unknowingly. The automated vehicles will also need to tackle people who have the least regard for traffic rules and/or the safety of themselves and others.
Unmistakably, automation is the way to go in the years to come, albeit not immediately. It is a sure-shot way of making our roads safer, improving traffic, bringing about efficiency in fuel, reducing the commute time of people and giving them more free time to relax, de-stress and unwind.