Will We See More Self-driving Cars In The Near Future?

google-self-driving-car-3.png.492x0_q85_crop-smartAs Google is working on making its self-driving cars fully-automated, they haven’t fully adapted to the current infrastructure and traffic laws yet. Moreover, Google cars tend to be distracting for other drivers, who take their eyes off the road to see how the technology works, which causes clogging up the road. Zintro experts discuss the challenges Google might be facing with its self-driving cars.

According to automotive electronics consultant, Ralph Wilhelm, Google doesn’t actually take into account the current potential in automotive electronic systems, throughout its development process for fully-automated cars. “The buzz surrounding the highly visible effort that Google and others are making with autonomous vehicles is really masking the true and valuable efforts made to develop and introduce complex automotive electronic systems that are continually being designed, awarded, manufactured, and introduced into the automotive-centric culture of today. The marriage of various electronic systems that communicate and share data and knowledge onboard a vehicle, between vehicles or vehicle to infrastructure will begin to push the boundary of newer and more valuable electronic systems that always have the driver in the loop,” Wilhelm explains. “The demand for safer vehicles, ones that can think for themselves and communicate that thought process to their drivers, all for a reasonable cost and at incredibly high levels of quality, that is what consumer’s today will pay for. Increasing functionality, higher safety, better human machine interface, at fairer prices and with outstanding quality and reliability for 100K miles or more!”

Mark Preston, an expert in electrical vehicle technology, believes that the car will be part of the intra-modal transportation network in the future. “If you are travelling from Oxford, UK to London, UK; there are a number of ways to get there. What is the cheapest and most efficient? From my house in central Oxford it is bus, high-speed train and underground. All 3 things could be replaced by a car journey. The last time I looked at driverless transportation, we focused on buses and personal rapid transit (PRT). The most expensive part of running a bus is the driver,” Preston says. “This is an important part of the train as well. PRT systems are running in Heathrow as transportation between T5 and the Business Car Park: there are others in MASDAR/Middle East. It mostly comes down to what is needed. The driverless cars are similar to pilotless drones. There is a use for them, but it will be a part of the total solution. I also think that the USA and the rest of the world have different requirements due to the density of population.”

As automotive consultant, Ted Ginnity indicates, every driver has had a car fail on them at some point in time. “One of the largest challenges Google will have is the ‘What If’ scenario. Many have now had a failure of the fly-by-wire features found on new cars. With that in mind a customer will be looking at a self-guided car with some trepidation. Even if answers to common questions like ‘What happens when the computer loses GPS signal?’ or ‘What happens if something is in the road in front of me?’ can be found, most sensible people will still realize that the potential for accidents is very real,” notes Ginnity. “Even after extensive testing in both simulated and real world conditions, there will be a need to have actual users take these cars to the public roads. And I suspect many jurisdictions will be convinced that this is not a safe thing. As with any political issue, the line will be drawn and regardless of the facts, this will become a contentious debate. Unless Google is prepared to deal with this politically, I think many places will ban the use of these vehicles, which would severely limit their success.”

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By Idil Kan

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