India is moving ahead with a controversial plan to build what is being billed as the world’s biggest city, but critics warn it could set a dangerous precedent for other cities seeking to replicate the smart-city model.

    The government said in a statement on Wednesday that it would set up an autonomous driving testing centre for the project and that a pilot will begin in 2018.

    The statement did not elaborate on how many of the 200 or so vehicles, or vehicles, being tested would be equipped with autonomous driving software.

    But in a joint statement with the National Motor Vehicle Authority, the state government said that the “Smart City” plan would involve the “creation of autonomous vehicles, which will be programmed and controlled by a computer to drive the vehicles autonomously”.

    The statement said that after the “smart cities” project was approved by the National Assembly, it would go to the government for approval.

    Critics of the plan say it is too ambitious and will put India in direct competition with a large number of other cities looking to replicate a smart-urban model.

    “The idea is to make the cities as big as possible and to create a single city with a metro area of 100,000 people that can operate in its own autonomous mode,” said Ram Jethmalani, a former executive at the Indian government’s National Urban Mobility Authority, which is overseeing the project.

    “You cannot have a single metro, you can only have one Smart City.”

    “It’s a big mistake for the government to build this Smart City,” he said.

    “I’m worried that the project will cause many other cities to follow suit.”

    In the past, India has built several Smart Cities, but none that were actually fully autonomous.

    The Delhi metro system was built in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, but the state has yet to launch a pilot program.

    India’s government, which has been plagued by corruption scandals and budget deficits, is facing criticism for failing to implement the Smart City plan.

    “We have no Smart Cities,” said Kavita Krishnan, a spokesperson for the ministry of urban development.

    “In the past we have tried to build these Smart Cities with different kinds of technologies, but no one has been able to deliver.” 

    A Smart City is the term used to describe a city in which all or most of the infrastructure, services and jobs are controlled remotely by a central government agency. 

    The central government said it has given its approval to the project, which would cost $300m and be based on a mix of state and private funding.

    The central government would control the city’s finances and services through an autonomous technology platform, a spokesman said.

    India has long relied on technology to improve its infrastructure, and some have argued that the Smart Cities program would bring similar benefits to its infrastructure.

    “It will be a very big deal to build such a project, but I think we have to ask ourselves how it’s going to be done,” said Rajiv Kumar, chief executive of a tech startup called Echelon Technologies.

    But if you look at the history of this country, there has been a lot of problems like the Smart Urbanization of India.”

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