Autonomous driving - when can we expect it?
Germany is considered a pioneer in the automotive industry. All the more surprising, then, that we currently hear very little about the technology of the future, autonomous driving. Elon Musk, on the other hand, recently expressed confidence in the functionality of this innovation. But how far along is the automotive industry really and how advanced are we Germans?
The legal situation for autonomous driving
After Elon Musk was very likely too optimistic with his statement that he would be able to reach level five this year, changes in the law are planned. The Ministry of Transport plans to enact a law after the summer break that will regulate the operation on public roads of vehicles that have already mastered the fourth level of autonomous driving. Germany is thus sending a clear signal to the outside world, because thanks to this law, autonomous vehicles could theoretically soon be on the roads on the autobahns. Such a decree would once again declare Germany a global pioneer. This is because international carmakers should also be able to operate their vehicles here thanks to the technology-open law. In over 50 pages, the technical framework conditions are laid down that must be taken into account for a registration with the Federal Motor Transport Authority. A clear explanation of the levels of autonomous driving can be found here, at our partner ADAC.
The time component
Experts assess Mr Musk's statement as too stormy and premature. The global association "The Autonomous", which consists of the executives, suppliers and semiconductor producers of the automotive industry, regularly exchange insights, developments and ideas. It is more than obvious that one company alone can hardly manage to realise autonomous driving at its highest level in a timely manner. The new law is only a signpost for Germany towards the future and towards innovation. According to estimates, it will be another five years before autonomous vehicles are on the roads in Germany. Even then, there is still no talk of level five autonomy, but of level four. For the time being, autonomous vehicles will be used in controllable areas and scenarios and then developed further step by step.
German carmakers under pressure
Now that the legal situation is becoming clearer, traditional carmakers cannot excuse themselves by saying that they lack the technical framework to develop the appropriate technologies. They are now under pressure to meet the emerging competition as soon as possible. Whether and to what extent the manufacturers in the traditional automotive industry are ready for the next big step into the future remains to be seen. However, they often lack the software expertise and the right feel for new technologies. If autonomy becomes more and more of a focus in the next few years, these companies will urgently have to start rethinking. Whether and when autonomous driving will catch on in society remains to be seen. Some car enthusiasts are unlikely to want to give up their manual driving pleasure.
How do you see it? Do you think the technology of the future is sensible and important or do you see the whole thing as a gimmick? We are curious about your opinions. Feel free to write us on Facebook!