Germany’s Bosch, the world’s biggest automotive supplier, predicts that no longer than in next six years we will get to the final stage before fully autonomous vehicles, but no forecast was given when a totally self-driving car might take to the streets.
A lot of questions and issues are still arising when we are talking about the many topics which are still on the table. Among them is, of course, most important questions like who is responsible when a self-driving car has an accident. Another important open issues are finding the solution to downsize the costs of sensor technology and protect the systems form the hacking. “Of course, we still have to prove that an autonomous car does better in driving and has less accidents than a human being,” said Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner.
Chief Executive of chipmaker Nvidia Jen-Hsun Huang forecast carmakers may speed up their plans given technological advances and that fully self-driving cars could be on the road by 2025. Nvidia is working on artificial intelligence — teaching computers to learn to write their own software code. “No human could write enough code to capture the vast diversity and complexity that we do so easily, called driving,” said Huang.
Defined degrees of autonomy
On the way to fully self-driving cars, levels of autonomy have been defined, with most cars on the road today at level two and Tesla ready to switch from level four to five — full autonomy — as soon as it is permitted to do so.
Level three means drivers can turn away in well-understood environments such as motorway driving but must be ready to take back control, while level four means the automated system can control the vehicle in most environments.
Nvidia’s is expecting to have chips available for level three automated driving by the end of this year and in customers’ cars on the road by the end of 2018, with level four chips following the same pattern a year later.
That is at least a year ahead of the plans of most carmakers that have an autonomous-driving strategy. BMW is on its way to deliver a level three autonomous car in 2021, but could produce level four or five autonomous cars in the same year. Uber, Baidu and Google spin-off Waymo are testing self-driving taxis, while carmakers including Volvo, Audi and Ford expect to have level four cars on the road by 2020 or 2021.