I’ve been in Bangalore, India, for the last two days and it has been a delightful trip. The traffic here is fiercesome, though. Even within India, Bangalore has a reputation for congestion on the roads.
Many of the Indians I’ve spoken with look at the traffic here and express skepticism that self-driving cars will ever come to India, or at least any time soon.
I suspect self-driving cars will arrive in India sooner than people expect, though. The key will be that the first experiments will start just as they did in the United States: in locations chosen specifically for their ease of driving.
For years, self-driving cars in the US only operated in Silicon Valley and Las Vegas. And there was a reason for that. Those locations are flat and sunny, and the streets are rectilinear. Even now, Waymo’s first public rollout is in Phoenix, which is flatter, sunnier, and more rectilinear still.
Something similar will happen in India. Self-driving cars won’t come to Bangalore first — that would be crazy. They’ll come first to private campuses and controlled-access public roads with good pavement and markings, where the challenge of getting self-driving cars to work will be more manageable.
Over time, self-driving cars will expand their footprint, in India and elsewhere, but there will be learning curve. Just as self-driving cars in the US have now reached Detroit and Pittsburgh and even Boston, eventually self-driving cars will get to Bangalore.
But you have to crawl before you can walk 😉