I recently wrote a blog on autonomous driving and my belief that this technology wouldn’t become mainstream in my lifetime, if ever. What amazes me is the amount of press coverage this topic still generates – have a read of the link above for the latest. And yet, I shouldn’t be. The reality is that tech companies are at the fore of the development of autonomous driving and, as in the case of Google-owned Waymo, GM-owned Cruise, and now Geely-owned Zenuity, they have oodles of money to spend on marketing to remind us of their alleged “progress” to living in a world of self-driving vehicles (inconsistencies in the terminology used for differing levels of self-driving aside!).
I should highlight that I am in no way condemning new ideas in any area within the automotive sphere, particularly safety. However, the notion that human driving will be replaced by fully autonomous driving remains fanciful. The last paragraph in this linked-story is perhaps the most telling – like all other “real-world” testing that has been carried out thus far, autonomous vehicle testing in Sweden is still being done with a human behind the wheel. Humans are there should they need to re-take control of the vehicle in the event of a system failure, be it of a technical nature or of a “judgement-error” nature. Amongst other mitigating factors, until such time that virtually every vehicle on the road is fully autonomous and therefore able to “communicate” with each other, the (driverless) technology will never be able to account for human decisions of which they will be sharing the road.
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I can sum up my argument that fully autonomous driving won’t become mainstream in my lifetime, if ever, thusly: Will driverless technology ever be officially approved that will allow a child to be driven to school in a vehicle that isn’t manned by a human? No, I think not.
So beware the tech companies driving the movement who try to convince us that it is just around the corner…