MADISON, Wis. — Right now, it seems, there are two inevitabilities in the world. One is Hillary Clinton. The other is self-driving cars.
And neither is inevitable.
Thankfully, this is not the forum to discuss the 2016 election. On the other hand, this is the ideal place — and moment — to question the marketing and technical experts who keep describing autonomous cars as “just around the corner.”
For example, Jeffrey Miller, IEEE member and associate professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California, told us: “I think that we are absolutely going to be seeing driverless vehicles on the road in the near future, possibly in as little as five years.”
But look closer. Prof. Miller isn’t talking about completely autonomous vehicles. He’s referring to “an autonomous car” in which the driver might have to grab the wheel at some point during the ride.
To “get rid of the driver” completely out of the driving equation “may take 10 to 20 years,” Miller parenthesized.
But, even without total control, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems have come a long way.
ADAS features ranging from adaptive cruise control and automatic braking to blind spot detection, collision avoidance and lane departure warnings are moving from luxury to mid-range cars. You could even say, “Look, these cars with ADAS features are practically doing the driving for us.”
EE Times recently invited a panel of experts in the automotive field to its radio show. The guests were:
- Douglas Patton, Executive vice president, Chief Technology Officer at Denso International America, Inc.
- Adrian Koh, Director, Business Development at NXP Semiconductors USA, Inc.
- Mark C. Boyadjis, Senior Analyst & Manager at IHS Automotive
- Sarah Palodichuk, Researcher, J.D. at the University of Minnesota, focuses on privacy and criminal liability issues within the field of transportation.
We asked them to zero in on missing links to a smooth transition to the fully autonomous car – one that allows the driver to nap in the back seat.
[How autonomous can a car really be? Listen to EE Times’ Oct. 26 panel discussion here.]
During the show, Mark Boyadjis, IHS Automotive’s senior analyst, explained that additional ADAS features are incremental steps, while going from Level 3 to Level 4 is “a leap.” Level 3 is defined by NHTSA as “Limited self-driving automation,” with the vehicle in control most of the time. Level 4 is “full self-driving automation” in which the driver isn’t the driver.
Denso’s CTO Doug Patton agreed. “Even within Level 3, there are a bunch of steps we still have to take,” he said. “This won’t be the giant step Google would like us to believe,” he added.
The definition of an “autonomous car” comes in many variations and shades of gray. Advocates tend to pick and choose among these to make us believe what they want us to believe.
In the following pages, we offer 12 self-driven steps you can take to recover the never-ending story of The Little Engine That Could (All By Itself).
To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.