Autonomous driving will come, that’s for sure. Only when and to what extent do the opinions differ. While the forecasts were very optimistic a few years ago, more skepticism has now arisen. Audi had to learn how difficult it is to implement Level 3 autonomous driving. A few years ago, the Ingolstadt-based company demonstrated with the new A8 the ability of the car to operate on structurally separate lanes without driver intervention, but the introduction of the technology was delayed, not least because authorities such as the Federal Motor Transport Authority also broke new ground in homologation . Now the upcoming Mercedes S-Class, which celebrates its premiere in autumn, is to be the first model in the world to be officially on the road with driver assistance systems of level three. That should put a lot of pressure on all other manufacturers.
Because the technical implementation turns out to be complex, since the robot car has to be on the road with a zero-error tolerance. “One of the most difficult problems in the AV industry is that it requires enormous computing power for autonomous vehicles. The need for high-performance AI supercomputers that can process data in real time is of the utmost importance to ensure the highest level of security,” explains Danny Shapiro, Senior Director Automotive at Nvidia, who has been working on autonomous driving for years. This does not change the fact that the development of self-driving vehicles continues, especially in the United States companies such as Waymo (from the Alphabet-Google group) and Uber are driving autonomous driving with billions of dollars. Waymo in particular is said to have developed a clear technological lead.
The car maker is chasing
So that the car manufacturers are not demoted to pure suppliers, they have to accelerate themselves. With the iNext, which will be released next year, BMW wants to make Level 3 autonomous driving a reality at speeds of up to 130 km / h. This means that the driver can temporarily turn away from the driving task and traffic and drive the car independently in application cases specified by the manufacturer – for example on the motorway. However, people have to be able to drive the car if necessary. This development is like an initial spark. According to Statista analysts, one in ten cars will be autonomous in 2030 and the market volume of these vehicles will increase to $ 13.7 billion. Robo-taxis will account for a lion’s share of cars with a volume of around $ 1161 billion. This corresponds to the opinion of many experts that the autonomous vehicles will initially establish themselves in precisely defined environments with reasonably predictable scenarios. This includes, for example, a university campus, the site of a company or cities or areas thereof with one-way streets.
Especially when it comes to the use of robo-cars everywhere and at any time without the driver having to intervene, i.e. level 5, it will take a few years until the time has come. “While great progress is being made in the development of safe self-driving vehicles, we are many years away from being able to deal with real level 5 in any possible scenario. We can develop a system that does not cause collisions, but the dangerous and unpredictable behavior other drivers are impossible to prevent, “says Danny Shapiro.
Fear of hackers
In addition, according to Statista, the forecast market growth depends on how quickly consumer acceptance increases and manufacturers are able to scale their production. According to an Audi study, 82 percent of respondents show interest in autonomous driving across borders. Chinese and South Koreans are particularly impressed with the robotic cars (98 percent and 94 percent). The Europeans are more cautious: In Italy, 88 percent of those questioned are interested in the technology, and 77 percent in Germany. Interestingly, the greatest skeptics are at home across the Atlantic: Only 72 percent of Americans are interested in self-driving cars. The human factor plays an important role anyway. Since the autonomous vehicles are basically rolling computers, the dangers are exposed like hacker attacks. That scares people. The Statista surveys are clear: More than 70 percent of consumers do not believe that driverless vehicle systems are safe from hackers.
Like any computer, an autonomous vehicle can be disabled by interfering with the system software. The effects of this scenario would be fatal for robotic cars. In theory, there are many entry points for hackers. For example the SIM card, the radio key or the Bluetooth module. Finally, wireless updates are also installed in modern cars. The manufacturers also know all of this, of course, and encrypt the data using cryptography software and always install sophisticated firewalls, a kind of digital watchdog that lets the data through the gate, which are also desirable. To rule out all eventualities, the car manufacturers also hire hackers to help you back up the data. But the whole thing has something of the famous hedgehog rabbit race, because the bad guys are always a step ahead of the security forces.
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