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The future of cars is driverless

It’s a stuff that science fiction is made of. Or so we thought. Google has signed a law with California governor Jerry Brown to launch self-driven cars.  The date and time is hidden in the womb of the future but the signing of the law means that the technology major have been able to convince lawmakers that self-driven cars are the way to go. It’s a zoom into the world of films like Total Recall and Fifth Element. But then if in late nineteenth century one spoke about automobile cars with navigation facilities people would have thought they are quoting from the works of HG Wells.  But it took a few decades to let that happen and when it did, we were far from surprised. ‘We’re looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality,’ Brown is reported to have commented while signing the law. He is not being prescient, merely a little ahead of time. This new car will be powered by technology company Google which has been developing self-driving technology since 2010 and has reportedly tested a fleet of such cars along Californian highways. Google’s futuristic cars are said to depend on video cameras, radar sensors, lasers and database made from millions of information systems that collect driving data from cars driven manually. They all come together to synchronise a system that is truly in auto-pilot. Two things should be noted here.

The fact that it’s Google and not any of the car majors who is driving the automobile into the future is a significant development in the industry and can shake the future of the industry in more ways than one. Second, the safety norms and security issues involved could fundamentally change the way in which road rules are now negotiated. In the long run it could revolutionise our ways of thinking about roads, urban infrastructure and urban living. After the internet through which Google has fundamentally changed the reception and production of information, Google seems to be on the way to becoming the Lord of the roads too. But how will this development impact India? For all we know, someone can bar its entry citing the sentiments of drivers and auto-rickshas. Before that we have to find out if self-driving cars would involve FDI in retail in which case its future is doomed anyway. But in case it makes its way we may as well spare a thought for the drivers who might lose their employment. One thing is for sure. The alcohol industry will rejoice at the thought of self-driven cars in India! The huge demography of drunk nocturnal revellers will now drink their life to the lees because they will not need to drive after a heavy drinking bout. All they have to do is take their seat in their car and just press a button. Zoom!
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