Self-driving in Europe has a future, say auto executives

Article by Anita Panait, on July 9, 2013

Automotive executives in Europe remained bullish on the future of automated driving but admit that it would take time for regulations to pull alongside with technology. They also noted that no one would want to remove the fun and experience of personally driving a vehicle. Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche made the second point clear during the global launch of the Mercedes-Benz S class in May 2013, saying that the carmaker’s flagship sedan "marks the start of the era of partially autonomous driving."

He remarked that with its six "eyes" or cameras and six "ears" or radar sensors, the Mercedes S class can see and hear enough to autonomously drive itself at up to up to 60kph (37mph).  He said that their ultimate goal is to take away the boring components of driving but keep the fun.  "We will never automate the cool part of driving,” he said, adding that as for the uncool part, “we can do without."

Wolf-Henning Scheider, who heads Robert Bosch's chassis systems unit, concurs with Zetsche's opinion. He said that there are many situations where one has real fun driving and one wants to drive.

Scheider told Automotive News Europe that if day-to-day commuting and traffic jam situations are taken away, “there is a market for automated driving functions."

Scheider remarked that technologies needed to achieve automated driving already exist -- sensors for controlling braking, steering, speed and the distance between vehicles -- in models such the Mercedes S class, BMW 7 series and Volvo XC60, self-driving cars would not become a reality unless they are proven to be "100-percent safe 100-percent of the time." He remarked that to achieve fully automatic driving, a car needs to have redundant sensors. Scheider quipped at least two sensors are needed to “measure the same thing and then check between them.” [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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