The Future Is Autonomous?

Last week Tesla launched its “Autopilot” system, which allows “hands-off” driving, although when announcing it, Elon Musk reportedly recommended that “drivers keep their hands on the wheel just in case.” This is actually a clever implementation of an addition functionality in a vehicle.

Last week Tesla launched its “Autopilot” system, which allows “hands-off” driving, although when announcing it, Elon Musk reportedly recommended that “drivers keep their hands on the wheel just in case.”

This is actually a clever implementation of an addition functionality in a vehicle. A year ago Tesla started equipping Model S sedans with the technology that would be necessary for Autopilot.

a

Tesla Autopilot IP image

Cars so equipped have forward radar, a forward-looking camera, 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors capable of sensing up to 16 feet around the car, GPS, and a digitally controlled electric assist braking system.

Through its over-the-air software update capability, Tesla Version 7.0 software appeared in driveways, as it were, and voila!, the Autopilot capability.

Elon Musk thinks that fully autonomous driving technology will be ready to go in just three years. (He also thinks that regulations will be way behind that.)

Tesla announced Autopilot on October 14.

Coincidentally, in effect, on October 15, IEEE announced the results of a survey taken of members of the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) society and IEEE’s social media community on the subject of driverless vehicles.

And what’s surprising is that even the experts—the members of IEEE ITS aren’t all that chuffed about the prospect, at least when it comes to their kids.

That is, when asked to rank how they’d feel about an autonomous car picking up or dropping off a child, 70.8% ranked it as a 3 or below on a scale of 1—not at all comfortable—to 5—very comfortable. Which probably equates to comfortablish at best.

There is agreement with Elon Musk regarding regulations.

When asked to rank the barriers to mass adoption of autonomous vehicles, the expert respondents answered:

· 26%, policy/regulation

· 25%, comfort level/trust

· 17.3%, technology

· 13.5% liability

Those in the social media realm had a slightly different take:

· 30.8%, comfort level/trust

· 18.8%, policy/regulation

· 15.4%, technology

· 11.1%, affordability

Were the hurdles to be crossed, then a considerable number of those surveyed would be ready to use the technology (even though they might not let their kids).

That is, 75.5% of the experts would use autonomous vehicles for daily errands, 74.1% for daily commutes, and 60.7% for road trips. Which probably says more about the fact that more people run errands and go to work or school than take road trips.

But the timing for autonomous vehicles is way, way behind Elon Musk’s view.

83.7% of the experts don’t see it happening until. . .2030.