When it comes to the concept of self driving cars, there are many automobile manufacturers out there that have decided to jump onto the autonomous car bandwagon. While a lot of automobile makers and companies have decided to take their self driving cars out on the roadways, claiming that 2016 will be when these cars can hit the roadways for real, other people say this technology is still really a decade away.
Self Driving Car Progress Will be Slow
According to Bosch Chassis Systems Control Division President, Gerhard Steiger, 2016 is not going to be when we will see self driving cars out on the roadways for good. Steiger said that not even a couple years is when we will finally get autonomous cars, as he predicts that it is all still a decade away from becoming a reality. Steiger said that by 2020 these cars will be able to change lanes without aide and will be able to avoid obstacles. Not only that but he believes that by 2020 these self driving cars will be able to handle highway navigation as well, but the full self driving car capabilities will not be ready until 2025.
Steiger had a lot to say about self driving cars, including that while it all is very impressive, there is still a lot of testing going on right now and that will continue for some time. Steiger mentioned that there has to be “several million kilometers” of testing that highway pilots have to do in order for the self driving cars to end up in the production phase. He also said that real-world testing and situational events have to be done with the self driving cars, and that is very hard to do outside of the United States. There has to be test facilities and states can end up giving car companies a license that would allow them to develop this technology while out on the roadways.
Some good news that will help self driving cars in 2016 is that the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is going to be changed in April. The changes will allow for the self driving car technologies to be tested out on the roadways as long as there is a human in the car that can take over if needed. More impressive is that vehicle registration laws seem to be about to change as well, at least in terms of Regulation R79. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is working on this a bit right now. This basically says that automatic intervention is only allowed for cars that are going no more than 10 kilometers an hour.
If all of these obstacles are removed there are still some issues going on for the self driving cars. One issue is that these self driving cars will have to be connected and have better and more detailed digital maps. There is a lot of environmental information that these self driving cars need in order to run properly and safely, and other information such as real-time traffic reports. Data on traffic congestion and where accidents are will be very important for the self driving cars, but Steiger said that only if these cars are connected to servers will all of this information be able to get to the cars. By 2025 the hope is that all cars will come standard with this connectivity and will have all of the needed information to make decisions for itself, with or without a human behind the wheel or near the wheel.
The issue with getting all of this in the self driving cars is that it will take years to develop all of this technology. These have to be very precise and highly-functional maps in order to make sure that things go as planned. Then you have to do hours of testing after that, which has to happen on various roadways and various environments, and all of that takes a lot of time and money to complete.