Selika Josiah Talbott, founder, Autonomous Vehicle Consulting: If you're talking about John Q. Public owning their own autonomous vehicles, I think it will be like EVs: very early adopters and an elite few who can afford what they will cost in terms of personal ownership at the very beginning.
And then just like electric vehicles, [because we perfect technology,] there will be things that may not even be invented today that will make movement of autonomous vehicles much safer and much more readily available.
Taking all that into account, I see no reason why we won't be at that stage [in 2035]. Looking down the road at 10-plus years, I'd say absolutely.
Would there be personal ownerships? If we're really about problem-solving — and AVs solve a host of problems we have — we don't want to encourage everyone to have one, putting more vehicles on the road and creating more congestion. We have to find a way to make an autonomous vehicle something that's more shared so multiple people are utilizing vehicles.
Q: Will we ever see true Level 5 AVs that can operate without restrictions?
A: Bailo: Yes. I don't know when. I've always said 2050 or after because, fundamentally, I believe you need to have a world where all vehicles operating are autonomous, or at least a big majority of vehicles being autonomous, so human-driven vehicles have no choice but to follow the rules. But the intermingling of personally owned and computer-driven products is very difficult and hard to control. Yes, but only when we have a world of autonomy.
Carlson: Being able to drive anywhere in any circumstance that a human being would be capable of driving I think is attainable.
But being able to replicate human behavior in so many different situations is quite a huge challenge, especially when we're talking about interacting with the outside world.
But I'm an optimist. On a long enough timeline, I believe we get there. I don't think it will happen anytime soon.
Koopman: With current technology, I do not think it's practical to get to an unlimited operational design domain.
Instead, what will happen is we'll see increasing capability over time, emphasizing the places with the best return on investment. Because machine learning-based systems can only perform tasks they've been taught, it won't make economic sense to teach vehicles very obscure tasks that most vehicle owners don't care about.
Complete Level 5 is a science-fiction dream. It makes a lot more sense economically to get to 95 percent or 99 percent of all possible operational scenarios and not try to automate everything.
Liu: If Level 5 is what SAE has defined, to what the average human driver can handle, I'm actually very confident Level 5 will occur.
Don't expect Level 5 vehicles to handle the situations that human drivers cannot. If you have a snowstorm, and a human driver cannot drive in that situation, don't expect an automated vehicle can do it. So that's my clarification.
It's hard to predict when that will happen, but I think it will. A very raw prediction is within 30 to 40 years we should be able to make that leap, but that's very rough. It is hard to predict the commercialization timeline for L4. Prediction for L5 is even harder.
Reimer: True Level 5 autonomy is generally viewed by many as synergistic with general artificial intelligence in the context of a vehicle that can make ubiquitous decisions at any time.
It is unlikely that within the bounds of current engineering capabilities, where we design and develop systems to specifications, we can build a Level 5 vehicle.
With that said, I am hopeful that in the centuries to come, humankind will devise artificial systems with the intelligence to achieve Level 5 autonomy. But I expect it is beyond my lifetime.
Talbott: Yes, there will [be Level 5 vehicles]. There will be because the science/technology can get there. We may not be there perfectly today, but I see no reason, impediment or barrier from science/technology perfecting the autonomous vehicle.
Though I think that public policy and social good have to be part of the equation, and what we must not do is further congest or crowd our roadways.
We don't have enough truck drivers to bring our goods to ports and to our neighborhoods. If for no other reason, to secure the supply chain, we're going to have to get creative, and we will have to incorporate new mobilities, and AVs will be part of that new transportation network.