Each year, approximately 40,000 people die from auto-related accidents in the U.S.
A large percentage of these accidents are
due to distracted drivers and driver error. Autonomous
vehicles have great potential to dramatically reduce these
numbers, not to mention save the economy from cost of
injuries and lost work.
Despite the great promise of such advantages, several
factors must be addressed before autonomous vehicles are
commonplace. Among them are:
• Winning public and individual trust. All too often,
people make comments like, “I would never trust
technology enough to let it take over driving.” The
fact is that sensors and properly configured machines
can make faster, consistent, and emotion-free
decisions than humans. In reality, not all accidents
can be eliminated—even with autonomous cars.
• Continuous technology and standards evolution.
Today’s technology will evolve into even higher
performing systems. Great benefits will occur
from standards dictating acceptable levels of safety
performance. Well-drafted standards could very
well increase the rate of development, and reduce
overall system cost per vehicle.
• Streamlined government regulations. Certification
performance methods and levels need to be
published to identify what is expected in terms of
performance requirements and how systems will be
tested to reflect real-world situations.
• Hardware reliability and service certification. The
same people who would never trust technology to
take over driving also question system reliability.
Autonomous vehicle certification methods must be
established for vehicles that are multiple years old.
This would address complaints that these vehicles
are only going to work for a few years before
needing an upgrade.
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to change
everything from driver, passenger, and pedestrian
safety, to the delivery and distribution of goods. With
this much at stake, government and industry sources
are working to address any and all issues currently
delaying the wide-scale deployment of autonomous
Head of Innovation & Incubation, Elektrobit
It would be easier to address if there was only one challenge, but if I had to sum it up, I
would say that the challenge lies in the ability to
create a safe, self-driving vehicle that is affordable and can be
used in a fully-autonomous mode by anyone, anywhere.
We’re at an interesting point in the evolution of the
autonomous vehicle—I believe we have the necessary
technologies, or at least understand what we’ll use, but
it will take time to put in the work to develop a vehicle
that can get passengers anywhere they need to go—safely.
The work is testing and simulating driving scenarios,
training vehicles using machine learning and analytics,
implementing security and mitigation, building the
HD maps, etc. Additionally we need at least one more
generation of some perception sensors to get into a price
range making a private vehicle affordable. There is a lot of
work that goes into creating a capable and reliable vehicle,
and OEMs, Tier 1s, hardware, and software companies are
all working toward that goal over the next decade.
It won’t take a decade for many of us to begin using
autonomous vehicles as part of mobility service solutions.
In fact, by the time autonomous vehicles are truly
ubiquitous, we all will have used them as they’ll first be
used in a shuttle, tram, or ride hailing service in some
limited geographic situation.
Co-chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative,
IEEE-FDC, & Head of the Industrial Doctoral School,
Allowing an autonomous vehicle to replace a human driver at the wheel is a matter
of trust, which (in the end) is a matter of perception.
Because we are not used to self-driving cars, we don’t
trust them, and whatever happens that reinforces doubt is
accepted as proof of our distrust. For example, there have
been a number of headlines where self-driving cars have
been involved in accidents. Yet, in most of those instances,
it was found that fault was not due to the autonomous
driving system. Nevertheless, those types of news stories
incite fear and reinforce peoples’ doubts.
Consider that on any given day, there are thousands
of automobile accidents, and the possibility a majority
Q: What is the largest challenge that autonomous vehicles
will have to address before becoming ubiquitous?