Image: bbc.co.uk

Five reasons why your driverless car hasn’t arrived yet

Technology and Business

Alice Salter

Alice Salter

10-08-2020

       

Driverless technology has advanced more in the past five years than the previous 50. It’s true that we’ve never been closer to a driverless future, but it takes time to ensure innovation is smart, safe and sustainable.

Watch the video below to find out why:

Here are five reasons we’re waiting: 

 

 

Legislative setbacks

There’s been huge progress with legislation in the past few years – Germany led the way by creating a legal framework for the regulation of AVs in 2017 and America has now passed laws for autonomous vehicles and systems in 29 states. But across the world, a lack of regulatory legislation makes progress difficult. As Elon Musk said, “Even if autonomous cars are 10 times safer than those driven by humans, it takes one spectacular incident to make it much harder to win widespread acceptance.”

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Price 

Creating something new and innovative has never been cheap, especially when advanced technology is involved. For AV manufacturers, costs remain high and this money needs to be either conjured out of thin air (venture capital/ going public) or financed (by producing current non-autonomous cars, albeit with many assistance functions). On average, autonomous vehicle start-ups spend $1.6 million a month, around four times the rate of financial tech or healthcare equivalents.     

 

 

Time

Developing driverless tech is an extremely complex endeavour and many manufacturers just need more time to refine their processes. Safety is a huge concern when it comes to AVs so testing, and lots of it, is essential. Waymo revealed that it drives 20 million miles a day in a simulated environment to collect data and test vehicles.

 

 

Social discussion  

When the burden of driving is removed, will we all be more inclined to travel by car? Zero- or single-occupant vehicles have a negative impact on the environment and so driverless cars pose a huge risk to certain causes, even while helping others. Ride-sharing could negate this, but we all need to discuss the risks of autonomous driving and, vitally, come up with answers before the tech is widely accepted.

 

 

Covid-19

The global pandemic has had an enormous impact. Ford pushed the launch of its autonomous service to 2022 and companies including Uber and Waymo have temporarily suspended their programs as testing while social distancing proved impractical. Attempts to test using a simulated environment have increased, and offer a good alternative in the interim, but not all scenarios are available via this method.

 

2020 has been discussed as a milestone year for driverless tech by everyone from commentators like The Guardian to manufacturers like Waymo and Toyota – Elon Musk even promised AVs for 2018. But now we’ve arrived without a surge in the use of AVs, we have to ask whether that was ever realistic. They might not be on the road right now, but AVs are on their way. By 2025 we expect to be able to drive ramp to ramp without manual control and level 4 autonomy is on track to be delivered in the next five years. We’re excited to see what comes next.

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How do you feel about the progress of autonomous vehicles? Will you be driving an AV in five years’ time? Are you eager to see AVs on the road as soon as possible? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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