Panel sees autonomous driving, in select situations, by 2025
Photo credit: Joe Wilssens
DETROIT -- Autonomous driving in some situations will be a reality by 2025 but a fleet of fully autonomous cars on American roads is unlikely, a panel of auto industry executives said at the Automotive News World Congress.
Helmut Matschi, member of the executive board of supplier Continental AG, said autonomous driving systems will be able to take over for drivers when the driver wants to do something other than drive by 2025.
"This is really for certain situations. It's not like there is no interaction at all," Matschi said during the panel discussion Tuesday.
Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW North America, said automated driving technologies will likely enter the market before 2025, but a fully-autonomous vehicle along the lines of Google's driverless car "goes too far."
Taxis, yes; premium cars, no
"Maybe we could see a taxi cab driven like the Google car," Willisch said. But in the premium-car segment, he said, people "want to drive themselves and still have the ability to enjoy their car."
The executives agreed that new technologies will gradually automate some parts of driving in the coming years, even if a fully autonomous vehicle is unlikely.
Matschi said partially automated driving in slow, stop-and-go driving will be possible by 2016. Hands-free driving where drivers will be alerted -- and given time -- to resume manual control of a vehicle will be possible by 2020, he said.
Doug Patton, senior vice president of the engineering division at Denso International America Inc., said consumers will grow comfortable with so-called driver assistance systems gradually.
Back to the driver
The key will be refining how systems that take over for a driver, then alert the driver when it's time to resume manual control of a vehicle.
"Disengaging is the easy part," Patton said. "Getting him back engaged at the right time and at the right speed -- that's what's going to be so important and I think that will be a piece that helps create the demand for autonomous drive."
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