The fear of technology replacing human workers has been around since the industrial revolution – some would say earlier – but in today’s world of AI and automation, the threat of machines taking what are traditionally human jobs feels larger than ever, especially with the development of self-driving cars. But at least one country - India – is seeking to protect its workers by banning the vehicles.
As nations around the world look to introduce regulations in preparation for autonomous cars hitting the roads, India won’t be welcoming the technology. The country's minister for Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, said: "We won't allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this."
"We won't allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment, you can't have a technology that ends up taking people's jobs," Gadkari added.
The minister said there was currently a demand in India for 22,000 commercial drivers, and that the government was opening 100 driver institutes across the country to get 5000 people jobs over the next five years.
The worldwide rollout of autonomous cars will be a slow one; the vehicles aren’t expected to become a common sight on the roads for at least another ten years, if not more. Right now, many companies are concentrating on self-driving “assistants,” such as Tesla’s autopilot mode and the one found in Audi’s A8 luxury sedan – the first production vehicle with Level 3 autonomy.
With its huge population, congested roads, and drivers that don’t always obey the rules, Indian companies that are testing self-driving tech have found prototype vehicles struggle to cope with the conditions. Both former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have said not to expect autonomous cars to arrive in the country anytime soon. Now, it looks like they might never appear.