Self-driving cars are under development, but exactly when they will arrive is still unknown.
“I would guess we get to full autonomy in 15 years,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields. “Camera technology is moving along very fast. Algorithms are advancing very fast,” said Fields, who admitted that he did not expect cars to be able to perform certain autonomous tasks, like parking themselves, just five years ago. “Now the car is becoming the ultimate technology product and we are becoming more of an information company,” he said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set out four classification levels for self-driving cars, starting at one, which represents no autonomy at all, to four, which “anticipates that the driver will provide destination or navigation input, but is not expected to be available for control at any time during the trip.” Field’s prediction refers to level four self-driving cars, though it seems that level three cars are much closer to reality.
Currently, most automotive companies are testing cars that are level three on NHTSA’s scale, which means “the driver is expected to be available for occasional control, but with sufficiently comfortable transition time.” The Google car is an example of level three automation and the tech giant expects to have its car available to customers by 2017.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
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