Self-Driving Cars Excite The Industry, But They’re Not Yet Ready For Prime Time – Forbes

Posted: Monday, November 28, 2016

Technicans examine data following the trial of an autonomous self-driving vehicle in a pedestrianised zone in Milton Keynes, north of London.  (Photo credit JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

There has been much-fevered talk about the imminence of self-driving cars, leaving the impression with the public that it won’t be very long before the automobiles we buy don’t even have steering wheels or pedals.

This has been fuelled by the car manufacturers themselves as they swap overblown rhetoric about the progress being made thanks to their engineer’s ingenuity and the massive sums committed to these projects.

Britain’s BMI Research hosted a seminar recently where it tried to get the hype and bluster and provide some insight into the prospects of computerized/robot/autonomous vehicles. Perhaps job one should be to decide which of these terms makes the most sense.

But the most important “fact” to emerge from the meeting was that fully-autonomous cars won’t be available for up to 15 to 20 years , according to BMI Research analyst Anna-Marie Baisden.

Some questions to emerge included the fate of pricey sports cars like Ferrari in a driverless world. Would anyone pay $200,000 to sit in a supercar driven by computer?

If the computerized technology is so close to being able to drive a car on city roads or highways, handle errant pedestrians, know that an incoming object is a bird not a car, and handle a whole range of unpredictable situations, why aren’t train services already computerized and driver-less? After all, the task for train drivers excludes steering, turning or avoiding strange objects given that the path has already been cleared.

Manufacturers have made clear performance vehicles will be last in line for automation.

“We can expect autonomy to be mostly focussed on the mainstream car segment – but also commercial vehicles, as we have seen progress with delivery vehicles making largely autonomous trips,” Baisden said in a report.

Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt practices driving his modified Corvette in Las Vegas. Schmidt is set to receive the first license restricted to an autonomous vehicle in the U.S. The license allows him to drive on Nevada roads in his specially modified Corvette, which requires no hands on its steering wheel or feet on its pedals. Schmidt uses head motions to control the car’s direction. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

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