The Future Of Driverless Cars: A Roadmap
The vehicles are coming in droves, and the drivers are conspicuously missing.
Driverless cars, also known as connected autonomous vehicles—or CAVs to industry insiders—will eventually navigate themselves with no human input, making driving so different that it might someday be called something else.
Auto manufacturers are already promising lounges on wheels, where amenities will carry new importance. In an earlier CenturyLinkVoice story about the commute of the future, experts said the commute will provide workers with yet another opportunity to boot up and get work done.
Here’s a look at how close we are to this driverless future
The progression toward autonomous vehicles is well underway, and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already drawn up a new policy for vehicle automation. It defines the various levels of driving autonomy as follows:
Level 1: Specific functions are automated. Today, for example, automated braking assistance and stability control are available in many vehicles.
Level 2: Two or more primary functions are automated and work together to take over a task for the driver. Vehicles such as Toyota’s 2016 Highlander Hybrid use sensors to detect nearby vehicles and automatically activate brakes when needed to avoid collisions.
Level 3: The vehicle controls itself in ideal conditions, but the driver must be available to take over when, for instance, the weather deteriorates. The Traffic Jam Pilot system from Audi, which will take control at speeds up to 37 mph, may debut as early as 2018.
Level 4: Vehicle systems are completely in control of the vehicle, save for navigation instructions from the user.
Fully autonomous driving will take a while to roll out, and analysts predict varying timetables. While Navigant Research predicts 85 million annual “autonomous-capable” vehicle sales by 2035, IHS Automotive forecasts that 11.8 million vehicles will sell that year. Seven million of these will have both driver control and autonomous control; another 4.8 million will be fully self-driving.
Given the uncertainty around the autonomous vehicle technology and legislation, car companies are vague on Level 4 timelines. But some have staked out goals for bringing autonomous vehicles to market. For example: Toyota is striving for self-driving vehicles in 2020 that use highway-side technology for assistance; GM forecasts “Car In Charge” technology by 2025; and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, predicted thatwe could see fully autonomous vehicles by 2018, with regulatory approval to follow.