Wednesday, January 2, 2013

3 driverless cars trends in 2012

To initiate the 1st post of this blog, I reviewed many news coming from the web around driverless or automated cars. I will also develop most of these trends in further blog posts during the following months.

I singled out 3 trends or hot topics of the year 2012:

  • automotive manufacturers visions.
  • end user acceptance.
  • shortly analyzing which actors are leading the driverless car effort.

Automotive manufacturers communicating on driverless cars and putting this at the center of their strategy: Volvo, Continental and Mercedes.
Their visions:

  • “no one is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020”
  • Continental: “will drive us toward a safer, more efficient and more comfortable future”

Safety seems to be the common denominator for automotive manufacturers to develop the driverless car technology. In a later blog post we’ll review all the possible motives for building driverless cars.

A poll initiated by Bosch, asking about driverless cars acceptance among drivers stirred lot of comments last year: Majority of today’s drivers are not ready yet to be driven by automated cars. Should this stop the effort of developing them?

Who is leading the driverless cars effort?

My feeling is that Mercedes-Benz is leading the way towards a driverless future, even more than Google and other players because next year Mercedes-Benz plans to actually sell a new S class Mercedes that allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel for 10 seconds. These 10 seconds make the difference between research and applied science for everyone (I mean, those who are wealthy enough now to buy this car).

Players are german manufacturers (Mercedes, Continental), US with Google. Volvo is also a major player. Seems that China is also doing something (Driverless car completes 114km journey from Beijing to Tianjin.). What about french, japanese and other automotive manufacturers? As of today, they don’t seem to be very active.

Update: Japanese Komatsu has some driverless trucks working in a Rio Tinto's mine in Australia.

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