Self-driving cars are a rapidly evolving technology which only a few years ago was still considered science fiction. In such a dynamic context, quick intuitions can be very misleading and misconceptions about the technology, its impact, and the nature of the innovation process abound. In the following we address some of the most widely held misconceptions about autonomous vehicles:

Top misconceptions

  1. Driver assistance systems will evolve gradually into fully autonomous cars
  2. The first models of fully autonomous cars will be targeted to the consumer and will be available for purchase
  3. It will take decades until most of the vehicles on the road are capable of autonomous driving
  4. Self-driving cars are controlled by classical computer algorithms (if-then rules)
  5. Public demonstrations of self-driving cars provide an indication of their capabilities
  6. Self-driving cars need to make the right ethical judgements

This list of misconceptions can be used to :

  • enlarge your knowledge about the underlying forces and paths that will shape the future of autonomous vehicles, and to
  •  assess the expertise of authors and experts who are making statements about self-driving cars.

You will find that many widely repeated statements about autonomous vehicles can be attributed to very narrow perspectives on self-driving cars and a lack of understanding for the nature of the global, distributed innovation process which drives this technology forward.

Note that this article focuses on fully autonomous vehicle technology, i.e. vehicles that can drive themselves without human intervention, even empty, without any human in the car.

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