Startups Say India Is Ideal for Testing Self-Driving Cars

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick famously said, after experiencing New Delhi’s chaotic roads, that India will be the last place in the world to get self-driving cars. But a handful of startups think the country could be the perfect testbed for creating autonomous vehicles that can handle anything.

A recent video from Bhopal-based startup Swaayatt Robots suggests they’re making progress. In the 6-minute long clip, a sensor-laden SUV weaves through narrow unmarked streets, dodging pedestrians, dogs, cows, slow-moving tractors, and a constant stream of scooters overtaking, cutting across, and even driving on the wrong side of the road.

Swaayatt CEO Sanjeev Sharma says the video highlights the two major characteristics of Indian traffic that makes it so challenging. It is both stochastic and adversarial, which in simpler terms means that road conditions and driver behavior are almost entirely unpredictable, and that other road users are more likely to play chicken than give way.

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