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Autonomous driving cars: are we ready for that?

Recently, due to many projects I am working on, related with automotive/autonomous driving system which I am involved, I was thinking with a certain nostalgia towards the past to my former hero David Hasselhoff and Kitt, the Knight Rider. In Italy, the serial beginning in 1982 and end in 1986. Over 30 years ago. Wow. I took a moment to re-thing about that comparing of our today Word.
The self-driving car is no longer a futuristic fantasy. Consumers can already buy vehicles that, within a few years’ time, will get software updates enabling them to hit the road without the need for a driver.
Even if I have to admit a am a bit “scary’ toward the idea an AI can take decision on behalf of me, while driving, is a matter of fact, this autonomous revolution will upend the automotive sector and disrupt huge swaths of the economy, while radically improving energy efficiency and changing the way people approach transport around the world.
Indeed car-tech is advancing, but leaves observers with a bigger question: will consumers trust driverless car tech, and will they want to use autonomous cars?
In general, tt doesn’t matter what we enthusiasts think or how much we rage against the machine. Autonomous cars are the future because most people who buy cars aren’t all that interested in driving them (we are not all of us pilot of Formula 1 by the way…) For mostly of them, driving is a chore, not a pleasure, and certainly not an art. It’s something they do to get to work, to get the kids to soccer practice, to get to the restaurant—to get on with the rest of their lives. They’ll love a car that will enable them to do emails over a coffee as it drives the morning commute or take them safely home after a few evening cocktails.
I believe first of all we should make clear what we mean for autonomous car. Autonomous cars are commonly classified by self-driven or driverless. Self-driven cars are not fully autonomous and needs intervention of human drivers. Most of the commercially available autonomous cars today are self-driven cars. On the other hand, driverless cars are fully autonomous and can drive without any human interventions. Even though the concept started as early as in 1500AD when Leonardo the Vinci designed a Self-propelled cart, but it really came into practice in 20th century. In 2015, when Tesla started to commercialize ‘Autopilot’ features in its cars, the concept became popular among all the other major car makers.
Currently, several major automobile companies are engaging in research and development of both semi and fully autonomous vehicles. During the last three years quite a number of automobile giants has announced their plans to launch fully autonomous cars by 2020.
There are many, many topics and point of view related with this subject. I do not pretend to explore any of them, I would like just to concentrate on 2 aspects.
1) Regulatory Uncertainty: most of the countries that have started testing autonomous vehicles have not yet provided a concrete regulatory guideline for such autonomous vehicles. There are still no guidelines or regulatory framework in which autonomous vehicles can run. Even though governments of some countries including the US, Japan and Singapore showed interests in commercializing autonomous technologies, but it is still in a stage of development. Many research organizations have cited Laws licensing, and regulations as one of the biggest challenge in the marketing. Many European countries such as Germany, the UK, Spain, Belgium, Italy and France are also going through trails of autonomous cars. According to European Commission, automated vehicles faces challenges to establish rules for technologies that are not yet applied.
2) Technical Challenges: I would like to mention just one (certainly movies like Fast & Furious 8 or Italian Monolith make me scary enough about implications) cyber security. In 2015, a cyber breach activity forced a Jeep to stop on a St. Louis highway when it was driving at 70mph. Hackers wirelessly accessed the car’s braking and steering through the onboard entertainment system. In addition, further research in technology and affordability are essential to make the vehicles compliant and hazard free. In many cases, we are still struggling to relate with human-driven vehicles on the road, and they face huge obligation, insurance, and even moral concerns that have yet to be determined. For instance, Tesla’s autonomous vehicle test in 2016 resulted in serious crashes that resulted in human loss. When technologies are already running efficiently, it may take couple of decades to change the current vehicles into a robotic fleet. Presently there are more than 250 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. alone, with an average beneficial life of more than 11 years. I do not have updated numbers in EU or in Asia. It could be difficult to accomplish this huge fleet to arrange autonomous technologies.
I hope I was able to stimulate a bit your curiosity about the topic, I will be happy to read your point of view in the comments.