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No Driverless Cars On India's Roads, Says Country's Transport Minister

“How can we allow such vehicles when we already have a huge number of unemployed people?”

Posted on July 24, 2017, at 12:26 p.m. ET

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

An Uber self-driving car drives down Fifth Street in San Francisco.

India will not allow driverless cars on its roads, the country’s federal transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, told reporters on Monday.

“No driverless cars will be allowed in India. The government is not going to promote any technology or policy that will make people jobless,” Gadkari said. "How can we allow such vehicles when we already have huge number of unemployed people?" He also added: “Cab aggregators like Ola and Uber are making money by using our driving skills. If cab aggregators think they can make more money by introducing technology like driverless cars and render people unemployed, the government is not going to allow it."

Silicon Valley tech firms are aggressively testing autonomous vehicles in the United States. Last year, a self-driving truck from Otto, a startup that was acquired by Uber, drove a trailer of 2,000 cases of Budweiser more than 120 miles across Colorado. Uber’s rival Waymo, owned by Alphabet, is testing self-driving trucks too. Meanwhile, Uber, Waymo, GM, Apple, and others are testing self-driving cars in places like San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Scottsdale, Arizona.

But the technology is far from ready to go mainstream, and Silicon Valley executives have repeatedly said that India will be one of the last countries to get autonomous vehicles thanks to the country’s poor public infrastructure and erratic traffic conditions.

That hasn’t stopped Indian technology companies from working on autonomous vehicle tech, however. India’s $133 billion Tata Group has reportedly been testing drivers vehicles outside Bangalore since 2014.

Uber and the Tata Group declined to comment.

UPDATE

This post has been updated to include additional comments from the transport minister.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.