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Autonomous Cars - The Snag.

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Autonomous Cars - The Snag.

Geoff Maxted
September 27, 2013

Autonomous Automobile
Will some kind soul please tell me why autonomous cars are such a big deal? Anyone who enjoys driving even a little bit can’t possibly see themselves sitting there knitting or snogging whilst science does the motoring for them. Call me a Luddite but it seems to me that this sort of technology is developed and made because they can rather than because we want it. Then it is flogged to us at exorbitant prices as buyers flock to the Next Big Thing like religious acolytes.

It seems that there is growing competition among car makers and suppliers to develop autonomous driving technology. What they don’t seem to be doing is to all be pulling in the same direction. We’ve seen this before of course with the battle between VHS and Betamax all those years ago. There has to be a loser and the loser loses big time. In America - where else - some ‘experts’ have got together to talk about talking about a basic standard to be applied to all autonomous technology. Singing from the same hymn-sheet in other words. The danger is that they will shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

There’s no reason that this shouldn’t happen. Manufacturers already share factories and technologies so why not the science of driverless cars? Inevitably there will be some who’ll think that their kit is better than everybody else’s but to do anything other than come together on this is just asking for trouble. Imagine what our roads would be like if the technology differed between cars. It simply can’t be allowed to happen especially since driverless cars have to communicate with each other so closely. Connectivity is the crucial part of this - vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure. This is why we need a standard. Regardless, for now, autonomous cars will be allowed on our roads for testing purposes.

In the meantime Ford USA will add an improved, more economical 6.7-litre V-8 diesel engine to their 2015 Super Duty pickup truck. Now that’s what I call automotive technology. I’ll hang onto the steering wheel for now, thanks. If I want to ride in a car attached to other cars by technology I’ll catch a train. The other problem for manufacturers isn’t so much whether the technology works but rather if consumers will accept it.

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