Monday, 30 april 2018 | Redacción CEU
Autonomous driving is positioned as the great driving force of the automotive industry future. All the big automobile companies point in the same direction, competing to become the first brand in the market that achieves the desired level 5, a challenge that, although it is seen in a near horizon, has not yet been able to take shape on the road, except in tests. Not a single firm wants to stay behind, because risking to miss this opportunity, could also make them fall from public grace against other contenders. In this race, that aims to develop a technology that will allow us to focus our attention on anything other than the road, there are many obstacles, problems and uncertainty that these companies have to face. As the saying goes, haste makes waste. Are car manufacturers choosing a good route or are they taking the wrong way?
There are two scandals that have recently shaded the race towards the complete autonomous driving. The first one is that corresponding to the fatal run over of a woman in Tempe (Arizona), an accident where a Volvo XC90 of the Uber's autonomous fleet was involved. The second incident, also a fatal accident, took place on the Highway 101 in Mountain View (California). A Tesla Model X with the Autopilot activated was involved in it. These events have brought back on the table the debate of the autonomous car development. Are brands ready to face a challenge of this magnitude? Will these vehicles really put an end to the high road accidents rate?
In the middle of the chaos, there are also two actors who stood out for maintaining their firm commitment to the development of this technology and turning a deaf ear to the consequences of the storm. California took a step forward. These events did not undermine the will of the US state to give the green light to the circulation of vehicles without a backup driver on board in their roads. Another of the great leading roles of this other side of the coin is China that continues betting on the test of autonomous vehicles in real conditions. The Asian giant is emerging more and more as one of the countries that will play an important role in the future of autonomous cars.
The development of autonomous vehicles promises the end of the traffic jams, a greater comfort and freedom inside the vehicles, the total relaxation of the driver who becomes a passenger, the exclusive dedication to leisure and enjoyment in the car or the use of that extra time saved for other tasks like working. However, its greatest advantage is not any of these mentioned advantages, but the substantial decrease in traffic accidents. Some even predict that under the right conditions their disappearance could be practically total. Given this persuasive promise, it is not surprising that an alarm reaction arises in the face of this type of accidents where autonomous cars are involved. Something that makes both car lovers and the industry itself put their feet on the ground and think about at what point the development of this technology is.
Geolocation and digital maps, artificial intelligence applied to the vehicle, laser sensors, LIDAR scanners, processors of last generation... Car manufacturers have made great progresses in the development of the autonomous technology. However, although some autonomous cars are already on the roads, the full autonomous driving is still at an experimental phase. In fact, in the scale of levels of the autonomous driving we are still halfway in terms of automation according to the most extended standard that it is the one from The NHTSA:
It is clear that there is still a lot of work ahead in the development of autonomous cars of level 5, not only in relation to this technology, there are already prototypes of these vehicles with full autonomy, but the development of legislation and infrastructures that will be ready for their arrival is also necessary. Meanwhile, users who bet on these cars, whatever the level, they also have to be aware of who is behind the wheel in each "race".
At The CEU IAM School we are committed to the training of professionals with solid knowledge of the sector who can satisfy the demands of an automotive industry under a constant change and strongly committed to innovation. For that reason, we have designed our Master's Degree in the Automotive Industry Businesses.