A Discussion on Automated Cars: look, Ma, No Hands!



Publicado el 12/05/2014

While it was science fiction just a few short years ago, automakers and engineers are harnessing technology and bringing hardware and software together to create a safe and convenient “user experience” in autonomous cars. The benefits are safety, efficiency and convenience. That was the message of the panel “Look, Ma, No Hands! The Future of Cars” at the 2014 Milken Institute Global Conference, moderated by John Casesa, senior managing director of Guggenheim Partners.

It is clear that we are at a significant inflection point in the life of the car. Imagine, as one panelist suggested, your automated car takes you to the theater and drops you at the door, then goes off to park itself. Or imagine that your car drives you to work and then heads home to drive the kids to school. The whole relationship may change. Panelist Christopher Urmson, from Google’s self-driving car project, shared the story of a colleague with a long commute who did not want to return her self-driving test car because she finally felt energized and relaxed at the end of her hour-long commute and not exhausted.

Many of us are already driving cars that operate autonomously. Raj Nair from Ford pointed out that a great deal of the autonomous technology is already in vehicles today. The steering system is fully electric and brakes, throttle, gear shift etc. are able to be controlled electronically. Radar, ultrasonic sensors, rear-view cameras – much of the hardware is already there. Eventually sensors could create “total situational awareness” where the car can see 360 degrees around itself at all times or “v2v” (vehicle to vehicle) communication, Nair said. Chris Gerdes from Stanford University added that it could be a good thing because, “People are not that good at paying attention.”

Most people in the room agreed that they would like a car that drives itself, more for convenience than for safety. According to a Cisco survey, in the United States almost 60 percent would trust a driverless car. But it is surprisingly variable by country. In Japan less than 30 percent of people would trust a driverless car, compared to 90 percent of people in Brazil.

Ultimately, the case for self-driving cars has been made and this panel helped convince the non-believers.

The driverless car used to be the stuff of science fiction but with new technologies rapidly being embraced by the automobile industry the idea of fully automated cars could soon be a reality. Guggenheim Partners Senior Managing Director John Casesa led a panel on self-driving cars at the 2014 Milken Institute Global Conference.

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