Driverless.global - Autonomous Vehicle Technology Directory
Driverless Cars and other Autonomous Vehicles are, to me at least, not just possibly, but quite certainly the biggest development since the invention of the very first car itself. We can believe in the future of Self driving vehicles or not - But we certainly cannot ignore them.
However, the Driverless vehicle industry may be moving on, but it is most definitely a work in progress and the end goal, of level 5 Autonomous driving, is not yet in sight. Predictions from various well known pundits from the Automotive industry, did think otherwise about earlier timescales, but that has turned out to be "slightly" inaccurate. This was either due to wishful thinking, but more likely an underestimation, of the sheer work involved to get a car to "safely" drive by itself, whilst interacting with other cars, vehicles, human beings and infrastructure.
Sadly, the safety factor has indeed made an impact and there have been some tragic incidents recently, which have rightly caused many of the key autonomous vehicle organisations to pause for a period of reflection and to rethink their future strategy. The accidents, sadly included an Uber vehicle killing a pedestrian in Arizona and the death of a Californian Tesla Model X driver, whilst in Autopilot mode, both in March this year.
Following these tragedies and other incidents and injuries, the inevitable questions concerning the safety of self-driving vehicles, have again, quite naturally been raised to a high level. One thing that has emerged from a recent report, are the concerns about a perceived rush to release driverless technology to the market too soon. Could it be the case that commercial pressures on Autonomous vehicle technology development, may have been influencing a hasty and insecure route to market?
It looks like we can now expect to see a slowdown of public road testing by various players, including Toyota, Nutonomy and others. Also it is believed that Uber will cease their Autonomous vehicle testing on Arizona's roads. However, it is notable that Waymo have not indicated any such slowing down - rather it seems they are proceeding full steam ahead, with a total faith in the safety of their own technology.
Frankly speaking, given the paramount need for safety above all other considerations, I am certainly in no rush to see the transition to full level 5 autonomy on our roads. I do firmly believe however that Driverless cars can be beneficial and despite the inevitable accidents, these will be far less with autonomy, than we currently witness due to human error. But to me, it is apparent that we need a far greater understanding of the current and emerging technologies. Something that only time can bring to this process.
Maybe full scale Self driving vehicle technology is only a case of "not if, but when", but let us not rush the "when".