Driverless, Autonomous Cars Could Take Longer to Go Mainstream than Predicted

Dri­ver­less, autonomous cars are get­ting a lot of buzz and atten­tion, but they may take much longer to make it to roads than orig­i­nal­ly thought. Ford Motor Co. Exec­u­tive Chair­man Bill Ford thinks they’ll be a com­mon sight parked in dri­ve­ways by 2025. Google has put more than 300,000 miles on them in test rides with­out a prob­lem, and thinks they’ll make it to roads with­in three to five years. Gov­ern­ment agen­cies in Neva­da, Cal­i­for­nia, and oth­er states, are test­ing them out for safe­ty and per­for­mance. For Sheila Bren­nan, pro­gram man­ag­er for prod­uct life­cy­cle strate­gies at mar­ket research firm IDC, main­stream adop­tion will be more like 2040.

The research firm is con­duct­ing a study to gauge the poten­tial tim­ing and mar­ket forces for autonomous vehi­cles. Bren­nan thinks Ford and Google are both accu­rate in their pre­dic­tion that autonomous, dri­ver­less cars will be street-ready with­in the next few years, but she sees there are too many bar­ri­ers to go main­stream until about 25 or more years from now. The hur­dles to climb over deal with pri­va­cy and secu­ri­ty issues, she said. There are many reg­u­la­to­ry agen­cies involved and lots of work to do to address objec­tions and con­cerns. Inter­op­er­abil­i­ty between tech­nolo­gies also has to be addressed, Bren­nan said.

As automak­ers are test­ing out dri­ver­less cars, some have already estab­lished direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion deal­ing with pri­va­cy and the use of data gen­er­at­ed by these autonomous cars, Bren­nan said. One man­u­fac­tur­er asked a dri­ver to sign a waiv­er giv­ing the com­pa­ny per­mis­sion to use the car’s data. They’re valu­able sources of oper­at­ing data – how fast the car was trav­el­ing, wear and tear on parts, effi­cien­cy of onboard sys­tems, and oth­er issues to look at. This “big data” process will be a big part of how automak­ers inte­grate autonomous cars into their strate­gic plan­ning in years to come.



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