Autonomous Commercial Vehicles – Is India Ready?
The commercial vehicle industry has undergone significant developments since the world recovered from the economic recession. Specially, the global truck industry which is developing at a very fast pace in terms of growing profit pools and acceptance of game changing market trends such as “Telematics” and “Autonomous Driving”.
However, like many infrastructure dependent trends, the growth and acceptance of autonomous driving in commercial vehicles is different in developed economies of US & Europe as compared to emerging markets like India.
After the revolution of driverless cars, commercial vehicles are next in line. That is the next logical step. In fact, Daimler has already launched its first road approved truck for autonomous operation in US. Daimler says “This is a truck which the driver can finally let go – at least of the steering wheel”.
In April this year, about a dozen trucks from Volvo & Daimler completed a week of largely autonomous driving across Europe, the first major exercise on the continent.
In opinion of the Industry experts, this trend might take another 10 years to reach a point where autonomous trucks are operating on public roads (the developed nation’s roads to be precise). This is a trend which is more dependent on the legislative system, policy issues and government approvals than the advancement of technology.
India as we know is a country enriched with a huge potential in IT & analytical skills. A large portion of R&D and technological development can be taken over by India. However, we might not have the best suited legislative system and an open public opinion about such developments.
Experts suggest that to begin with, the agriculture sector can be explored as an early adopter because of two major reasons. First, the vehicles will operate away from other human beings so it ensures safety of people around. Second, there is always a need to address food supply issues for the growth of economy.Moreover, the technology involved in modern tractors is very much similar to the modern cars.
This reasoning makes complete sense as to why India’s Mahindra Group, the largest tractors producer globally, has started with R&D to develop autonomous commercial vehicles including driverless tractors. Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of the Mahindra Group believes that “The tractors that operate autonomously could change the future of food production”
“Autonomous commercial vehicles operating on public roads in India” is a concept that seems unrealistic for India but isn’t that what we thought about many technologies some 15 years ago. Who thought the navigations systems could ever work on Indian roads, but, look at us now. We are dependent on them for every trip that we take.
This is a change which definitely is not going to happen overnight. In the present scenario, with regulations or probably lack of them, this concept cannot be tested on Indian roads but we should also acknowledge the huge talent pool we have in our country w.r.t technology and have confidence that we might see commercial vehicles with at least some level of automation in India.
As specialists in your domains, what is your opinion on this? Do you think that this trend is going to stay only as a concept in our country or it might turn into a reality sooner than we think?
Join us at India’s leading Commercial Vehicle platform: Commercial Vehicle Forum 2016 (http://cvforum.in/) on 24th November 2016 at The Westin - Chennai where more of such trends will be discussed by leading brands & experts.