Rio Tinto: Where Autonomous Driving is already Reality

Mine operator Rio Tinto owns a fleet of autonomous trucks that is used to transport mining materials to increase efficiency and lower costs. It’s already been 10 years since the first self-driving dump truck transported overburden to a nearby train station. Back in 2008 the tests were so succesful that the company decided to strengthen its fleet. Over the years the number of autonomous trucks steadily increased – today there are more than 80 autonomous vehicles applied to the Pilbara mine in Australia.

AHS Autonomous Haulage System

The dump trucks were originally produced by the construction machine manufacturers Komat’su and Caterpillar. They are called AHS which stands for Autonomous Haulage Sytem and are controlled from the site’s operations center. Each truck is eqipped with a GPS transmitter so they can be located at any time.
Unlike conventional dump trucks the autonomous ones are in permanent use. That’s a difference of about 700 hours per year which makes 15% of the total runtime. They do not need vacation and cannot be detracted like humans behind the wheel. Rio Tinto representatives also underline the safety aspect – in the whole past decade there was not even one reported injury.

New Milestones

Last year the autonomous trucks carried a quarter of the whole overburden and dumped it into trains. Latter are also automated – if loaded up, they automatically start their journey through the Outback of Australia.
This year Rio Tinto reached the next milestone. The autonomous trucks have now carried one billion ton of soil through the site. Because of the huge success, Rio Tinto plans to implement additional trucks. The goal is to have 140 autonomous trucks driving through the mines of Pilbara until the end of 2019.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de

Competition & Collaboration – Who is teaming up for Autonomous Driving?

Competition is good for business, this also applies to autonomous driving. Nevertheless every organization has to keep its eyes open for promising collaboration partners. Both traditional car manufacturers and new market players like Waymo (Google) are looking for suitable cooperations to fill their gaps.

Autonomous driving drives the change

The race towards autonomous driving has affected this trend in particular. Autonomous driving is not just about introducing a new way of driving, it is disrupting the industry. Current automotive profit margins are nothing compared to what companies could earn with driverless taxis. Just imagine the variety of services that can be offered inside an autonomous car.
Car manufacturers are slowly transforming into mobility service providers. But they need help from other companies to perform the change. The outcome: several strong company blocks in competition with each other.

Block building in automotive

The different blocks are fighting for the lead in the race towards autonomous driving. The goal is to offer a robot taxi service by 2021. BMW for example gathered several companies like Continental, Mobileye, Intel and Hyundai in order to bring together their knowledge whereas Waymo has been buying cars from FCA to modify them on their own.
Like BMW, Mercedes-Benz counts on strong cooperations. The Swabians teamed up with Bosch and the Chinese comapny Geely to give Waymo a hard time. A Mercedes-Benz representative recently announced that they plan to build autonomous cars from scratch instead of using modified versions of already existing models like Waymo does.
More blocks worth mentioning are:
– General Motors with Cruise Automation
– Aptiv (Delphi) with nuTonomy and Lyft
– Volvo and Autoliv (marketed as Zenuity)
Another notable block emerged around Baidu in China. The company has more than 70 partners and is currently working on optimizing the platform Apollo: 2.0.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de

American Center for Mobility Gives Automakers a Safer Venue for AV Testing

Autonomous vehicles were given a boost this spring when the American Center for Mobility opened in Michigan. Located at the historic former site of the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti Township, ACM is hoping to be the premier destination for AV testing.
“We built ACM on a collaborative approach, working with industry, government and academia on a local, regional, national and even international level,” said John Maddox, president and CEO of the American Center for Mobility. He spoke to attendees at ACM’s ribbon cutting ceremony, which brought together a number of political supporters and auto industry execs.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder referred to ACM as “another huge step forward” for the state as it strives to maintain its leadership as the auto capital of the world. “[Mobility] does three things,” said Snyder. “It’s going to bring us a safer world in terms of saving lives and quality of life. It’s going to create opportunities for people – people that may be economically disadvantaged, have disabilities and other challenges in their lives. It will provide options to their lives they have not seen in the past.” Snyder added that as mobility evolves it will also bring a new level of efficiency to the infrastructure. “This is a place to be on the forefront of improving lives, of creating opportunities for our citizens in this state, but also the entire world,” Snyder continued.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley concurred, adding, “This is going to make such a big difference for our infrastructure, for our safety, but especially mobility for people that don’t have the same types of opportunities that many of the rest of us have.” Calley praised the way corporations, associations, state representatives and others came together to build ACM from the ground up. “It’s so special, so important,” Calley added. “It’s going to have such a profound impact on the entire world and it’s happening right here.”
U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, one of many staunch supporters of AV technology, expressed the importance of building a place where self-driving cars can be tested and validated. “One of the things that has surprised me is the public resistance to autonomous vehicles,” said Dingell. “Let’s be honest, the Uber accident [in March] has made people concerned. That’s why we need this test site.”
Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president, artificial intelligence and intelligent cloud business development at Microsoft, also joined the stage to discuss how the company will serve ACM as its exclusive data and cloud provider. “We see it as an opportunity to invest deeply in the first safe environment where we can test, simulate and validate connected autonomous vehicles,” said Dallas. “And then accelerate the delivery of applications and services around autonomous systems. We’re taking that very seriously.”
After the ceremony, William “Andy” Freels, President of Hyundai America Technical Center, Inc. (HATCI), took a moment to share his thoughts on ACM. “We became founding members at the end of last year,” said Freels. “We are literally about 15 minutes from this facility. It’s a real investment in our local R&D facility here. Initially we will start using ACM for sensor development and sensor fusion testing. Connectivity is obviously a very important part.”
While ACM is designed to serve many areas of autonomous car development, Freels thinks the primary benefits will come from testing the potential interactivity and communication between cars (V2V) and infrastructure (V2I).
“Like never before, vehicles are going to need to work together to communicate [with each other] and the infrastructure,” Freels added. “That’s really quite different from the way it has been done in the past, where we could do something completely independently. I think that’s a key point of this facility – being able to collaborate with the industry, as well as the government and the academia side of it.”

About the author:

Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.

To Mirror or not to Mirror: How Camera Monitoring Systems are expanding the Driver’s Perspective

This article was authored by Jeramie Bianchi – Field Applications Manager at Texas Instruments.
Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear–this message is the tried and true safety warning that has reminded drivers for decades that their rearview mirrors are reflecting a slightly-distorted view of reality. Despite their limitations, mirrors are vital equipment on the car, helping drivers reverse or change lanes. But today, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are going beyond a mirror’s reflection to give drivers an expanded view from the driver’s seat through the use of cameras. See ADAS domain controller integrated circuits and reference designs here.
Camera monitoring systems (CMS), also known as e-mirrors or smart mirrors, are designed to provide the experience of mirrors but with cameras and displays. Imagine looking into a rearview mirror display and seeing a panoramic view behind your vehicle. When you look to your side mirror, you see a high-resolution display showing the vehicles to your side. These scenarios are becoming reality, as are other features such as blind-spot detection and park assist.
It’s important to understand the current transition from mirrors to CMS. It’s no surprise that systems in today’s vehicles are already leveraging ADAS features for mirrors. Most new vehicles in the past decade have added a camera to the back of the vehicle or attached a camera to the existing side mirror, with a display inside the vehicle to give drivers a different perspective of what’s behind or at the side of the vehicle.
Figure 1 shows the routing of this rearview camera and display system. The backup display is embedded in the rearview mirror and a cable routes to the rear of the vehicle.

The side mirror is different because the camera is located on the mirror. The side mirror still exists for viewing, but typically its camera works when the driver activates a turn signal or shifts in reverse. During a turn or a lane change, the camera outputs a video feed to the infotainment display in the dashboard and may show a slightly different angle than the side mirror itself, as shown in Figure 2.

Now that I’ve reviewed current CMS configurations that incorporate a mirror with a camera and display, it’s worth noting it’s possible to achieve a CMS rearview mirror replacement through the addition of one or two cameras installed on the rear of the vehicle.
From the rear of vehicle, video data from an imager is input to TI’s DS90UB933 parallel interface serializer or DS90UB953 serializer with Camera Serial Interface (CSI)-2. This data is then serialized over a flat panel display (FPD)-Link III coax cable to a DS90UB934 or DS90UB954 deserializer, and then output to an application processor for video processing, such as JacintoTM TDAx processors, and then shown on a rearview mirror display. If the display is located far from the Jacinto applications processor, you will need a display interface serializer and deserializer to route the data over a coax cable again. You could use the DS90UB921 and DS90UB922 red-green-blue (RGB) format serializer and deserializer, respectively, or, if you’re implementing higher-resolution displays, the DS90UB947 and DS90UB948 Open Low-Voltage Differential Signaling Display Interface (LDI) devices.
Figure 3 shows the connections between these devices when using a display onboard with an applications processor.

The second CMS is the side mirror replacement portion. The camera must be located in the same location where the mirror used to be. This camera’s video data displays a view of what the driver would see in the mirror. To achieve this, the camera data is serialized and sent over an FPD-Link III coax cable to a remote display located in the upper part of the door panel or included in the rearview mirror display. With a camera and display, now the side view can be in more direct line-of-sight locations for the driver. For example, if both the displays for side view and rear view are included in the rearview mirror, the driver only needs to look in one location.
Another option available in a side mirror replacement is to add a second co-located camera with the first, but at a different viewing angle. The benefit of this setup versus a standard mirror is that with two differently angled cameras, one camera can be used for the view that a side mirror would have provided and the second camera can provide a wider field of view for blind-spot detection and collision warning features. Figure 4 shows a two-camera side mirror replacement system.

The question you may be asking now is why drivers need cameras and displays if they can achieve most of the same functionality with a mirror. The answer lies in the features that cameras can provide over mirrors alone. If only a side mirror exists, side collision avoidance is solely up to the driver. With a camera, the detection of a potential collision before a lane change could activate vehicle warning alerts that prevent drivers from making an unwise action. Panoramic rear views with wide field-of-view (FOV) rear cameras or a separate narrowly focused backup camera can provide a driver with different line of sights and reduces or eliminates blind spots that would not be possible with mirrors alone.
This is just the beginning, though, because in order for vehicles to move from driver assistance systems to autonomous systems, a CMS can be incorporated into sensor fusion systems. CMS has the opportunity to incorporate ultrasonics and possibly even radar. The fusion of rear and side cameras with ultrasonics adds the capability to assist drivers in parking or can even park the vehicle for them. Radars fused with side mirrors will add an extra measure of protection for changing lanes and even side collision avoidance.
To learn more about how to implement sensor fusion, check out the follow-up blog posts on park assist sensor fusion using CMS and ultrasonics or front sensor fusion with front camera and radar for lane departure warning, pedestrian detection and even assisted braking.

What Happens When Autonomous Vehicles Turn Deadly?

Consumers and auto execs alike were horrified by the news that a self-driving Uber vehicle had hit and killed a pedestrian. The incident prompted Uber to ground its fleet of self-driving cars while the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reviewed the accident to determine who was at fault.

Uber is only one part of the growing autonomous vehicle sector, but the accident sent shockwaves throughout the entire industry. It’s the kind of incident that could thwart plans for AV deployment, attract a new level of scrutiny from lawmakers, and erode consumer confidence in a vehicle’s ability to drive itself.

Many in the auto industry wouldn’t even respond to a request for comment, but Nicolas de Cremiers, head of marketing at Navya, shared his reaction to what happened last March.

“As with any sector, human error is a possibility,” said de Cremiers, whose company produces autonomous shuttles and cabs. “It is crucial that we, as suppliers of autonomous mobility solutions, come together with communities and municipalities to begin taking steps towards creating safety standards and comprehensive measures for the upcoming Autonomous Vehicle Era in smart cities.”

de Cremiers remained optimistic for the future of AVs, adding, “In working towards a more fluid and sustainable future, by improving traffic flow and reducing congestion in urban centers, we will ultimately upgrade the quality life while raising safety standards for a world in perpetual motion.”

As far as regulations are concerned, Danny Atsmon, CEO of Cognata, a startup specializing in AV simulations, said there needs to be some “common procedures” before these vehicles are publicly deployed.

“It’s not a bad idea to have some commonality and standards among the different AV providers,” said Atsmon. “I do believe that after this incident, there are high chances that it will lead to some regulations.”

Gil Dotan, CEO of Guardian Optical Technologies, said it is the industry’s responsibility to “make sure we learn the most and make our tech smarter and more robust.”

“This will push carmakers and tech providers to be more cautious and responsible,” said Dotan, whose company is developing sensing tech for inside the cabin. “This has precedents in other industries, like aviation and space travel, where unfortunate events have occurred. The last thing we should take out of this is to stop our efforts.”

Dotan is among those who see the greater good in what AVs could achieve by eventually reducing the number of fatal car accidents. Atsmon agrees, but he said the incident is a reminder that AVs “still have years of development and a long validation process before it can be released on the road.”

Where does this leave Uber, the company at the center of it all? Jeffrey Tumlin, principal at Nelson\Nygaard, a transportation planning consultancy, said the video released by the Tempe Police Department is “remarkably damning.”

“Yes, the victim crossed a high-speed road – in the dark, on a curve,” said Tumlin. “But all the tech on the vehicle did nothing to slow the car or alert the human observer. While I still believe that AV tech can result in huge safety benefits, whatever tech was out there on the roads should not have yet been cleared for human trials.”

About the author:

Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.

Say Farewell to Private Car Ownership

Autonomous driving has not been established yet but still the day may come when private cars will disappear from the streets completely. It is one of the numerous debates within future mobility: Will privately-owned cars exist in future? Many studies confirm that the traditional status symbol will vanish – slowly but surely.

Transportation Services & Private Cars

Last year the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has already stated that the demand for new cars is decreasing, especially in places where transport services like Uber and Lyft are established. Several car manufactures are currently setting up similar models pushing their transition to mobility service providers. The study shows that people tend to buy new cars when there are no transport services given. This means that the mobility offer in a specific area defines the locals relation to mobility.

Changing Insurance

The insurance industry spotted this trend as well. Various insurance companies are already offering specific telematics rates including discounts for people who avoid accidents for a long period of time or a certain number of driven kilometers. This caused many critics to forecast the quick end of motor vehicle insurance. This scenery additionally alters with the development of autonomous driving. Experts suppose that with autonomous cars established there will be less accidents. But the ones that happen will cause higher damage costs because of the sensors that have to be repaired or replaced for vehicle control.

Swiss Re: Fall of Insurance Fees?

Swiss Re already expects the number of privately insured cars to drop sharply – their analysis predicts a decrease of about 15%. This also impacts the car insurance model, which, according to Swiss Re, soon won’t be profitable anymore. Just like car manufacturers Swiss Re sees the big money within the data that is collected by autonomous cars. As a result Swiss Re started to collaborate with the japanese conglomerate Softbank to in terms of telematics. More details on the deal are yet to be provided.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de

A better LiDAR for the Future?

Dozens of startups are striving to enter the autonomous vehicle market, hoping to bring innovation to the next generation of automobiles. From software companies that focus on artificial intelligence to hardware manufacturers that are building essential components, AV technology has been a boon for entrepreneurs.
Not all startups are created equal, however. While there are dozens of companies tackling the same group of problems, very few are ready to deploy their offerings. This is due to the immense complexities associated with self-driving technology, whether it’s the algorithm under the hood or the sensor on top.
Innoviz Technologies, a startup out of Kfar Saba, Israel, has zeroed in on one key challenge: LiDAR. The company is developing low-cost solid state LiDAR solutions for the AV market. Its products are not yet ready to be deployed in motor vehicles, but the firm’s progress has already attracted $82 million from investors, including Aptiv (formerly Delphi Automotive), Magna International, Samsung Catalyst and Softbank Ventures Korea.
“We got amazing feedback from companies that visited us (at CES) and realized what we have is already working well,” said Omer Keilaf, co-founder and CEO of Innoviz.

Solving Problems

Keilaf said that one of the problems with LiDAR technology is that it can be degraded by cross interference if multiple cars are close together. From the beginning he wanted Innoviz’s solution to work seamlessly in a multi-LiDAR environment.
“When we started this company the first thing we did was try to understand what are the main challenges behind LiDAR,” said Keilaf. “We had a certain kind of cost on one side. We decided no matter what we do, if you want to have a solution that’s viable for the mass market, we need to make sure that we can sell it at one point for $100. Maybe not in the first two or three years where the volume is not that high, but you cannot design a LiDAR if you do not believe that at some point you can’t sell it for $100 because it won’t go to mass market.”
Innoviz also wanted to build a sensor that is sensitive enough to collect light from a long distance, but strong enough to endure the blinding rays of the sun, which have been problematic for some LiDAR solutions.
Many companies say they can overcome these obstacles, but Innoviz wanted to prove their accomplishments were applicable beyond the testing phase.
“I think the biggest challenge is not only to show a demo but to actually deliver a product that’s automotive-grade,” said Keilaf. “A product that’s very high-quality and is actually reliable. This is what the OEMs want. They want to count on you to actually deliver a product in two years, which is already automotive-grade and meets all the performance and quality needs. They don’t have any appetite for risk.”

More Than LiDAR

LiDAR may receive the most attention, but Keilaf realizes that self-driving cars will need to equip multiple technologies before they’re deployed.
“I think it’s clear that in order to have high functional safety, you need to rely on different technologies like LiDAR, cameras, radar, sonar and GPS,” he said. “And there’s so much data that OEMs need to analyze. You see cars today that are running those platforms with computers that drive a lot of power and heat. It’s not what we do, but it’s one of the hurdles today.”

About the author:

Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.

In-Car Monitoring Technology for a New Level of Safety

Automakers are hastily working on new ways to monitor everything around the vehicle, but what about the driver sitting behind the wheel, or the passengers sitting in back? Thus far, car interiors haven’t received nearly as much attention.

That could change with the arrival of Tel Aviv-based Guardian Optical Technologies. The company is building sensing technology that will allow its potential users (such as OEMs) to take a closer look at what goes on inside the cabin. Its goal is to help manufacturers produce the first generation of automobiles that are “passenger-aware.”

“The data that our sensor can supply is very valuable to all sorts of applications inside the vehicle,” said Gil Dotan, co-founder and CEO of Guardian Optical Technologies.

While this technology could be applicable to other industries, Guardian chose to focus on automotive, which offers a number of possible use cases. For example, it can determine if a driver is drowsy, distracted or holding onto something, such as a smartphone. This information could be used to identify dangerous situations before it’s too late.

“And if you are an insurer, you would want to have this data so you can make sure that you optimize all your algorithms when it comes to charging for insurance,” said Dotan. “Both insurers and OEMs want to figure out what kind of behavior usually leads to accidents. Specifically if you’re an OEM you would want to optimize the safety systems inside the vehicle, whether they are proactive systems trying to avoid an accident.”

Could this lead to an autonomous driving mode that’s automatically turned on when drivers aren’t paying attention? It’s too early to say for sure, but it’s one possibility as manufacturers grapple with the rise in auto accidents.

“Saving lives is something we’re definitely interested in,” Dotan added.

Learning from the Road

Guardian’s technology has yet to be deployed, but early tests have revealed an interesting look at the way passengers behave when the vehicle hits a bump in the road. Dotan found that while objects jostle with the car’s movement, humans tend to come back to their original posture. This could be helpful in designing better, more supportive seats for tomorrow’s automobiles.

What about non-human passengers, such as pets? Dotan said it would be “very hard” to tell the difference between the various types of dogs, particularly those that differ in size. He believes that machine learning could help, along with the addition of 3D depth-mapping, which offers a greater level of in-car monitoring.

“Once we add the 3D aspect, you will find the outcomes to these algorithms are much more reliable and faster to provide an indication,” he said.

In December Guardian announced that it had raised $5.1 million in Series A funding from Maniv Mobility and Mirai Creation Fund. The company plans to use the funds to bring on more talent and to prepare its technology for production.

“We want to be in the assembly line,” said Dotan. “That’s our first go-to-market objective. Our sensor would also be very well suited for the aftermarket, but our first focus is OEMs.”

About the author:

Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.

Could In-Car Ads Lead to Cheaper Mobility?

Ride-hail services like Uber and Lyft are expected to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of autonomous vehicles. The cars could theoretically pick up passengers 24 hours a day. On the downside, these services will then be required to purchase or lease new vehicles from automakers, an expense they currently avoided by having drivers use their own automobiles.
With so much technology going into them, self-driving cars are likely to be very expensive. How will Uber and Lyft – or any taxi-type service – pay for them without increasing their fees?

Is In-car Advertising the Solution?

One solution is personalized in-car advertising. Using data gathered from customer’s phones, the car could deliver targeted ads that provide steady revenue for ride-hail services.
“I’m sure everything will be tried,” said Marc Weiser, managing director at RPM Ventures, which invests in seed and early stage companies, including automotive IT. “We’re not doing it yet, so why would we start? As long as the economics work…[but] if they don’t, that’s when you could start to see people paying for ads not to be there.”
Higher fees for no ads? That sounds like the model used by some streaming video services, including YouTube.
Jeffrey Tumlin, principal at Nelson\Nygaard, a transportation planning consultancy, thinks this model is inevitable.
“Of course that’s the market we’re heading to,” said Tumlin. “And given the business model for mobility, I would expect it’s going to be much more like the Hulu model, where the only thing you pay for is to turn the ads off. Think about advertising: when you are [in a car], you’re in a confined space. You’re surrounded by surfaces. The [car] knows who you are, where you are, where you’re going. It has your credit card information. It has anything that’s available about you online.”

Fearing the Ad Invasion

Grayson Brulte, co-founder and president of Brulte & Company, hopes that is not the case. He is not looking forward to a ride-hail service that bombards passengers with any form of advertising.
“[But] I am very fascinated and utterly interested in hyper-local experiences that can be monetized,” said Brulte, whose company develops and implements technology strategies for a global marketplace. “If you’re driving through a city and you have an augmented reality windshield, and it pops up an offer for Chipotle or something else – a paid or sponsored advertisement inside the augmented reality world – I think that’s interesting.”
Brulte said he is not bullish on the idea of a car that’s covered in ads or forces passengers to watch a screen. “It’s too invasive,” he said, comparing it to the loud and repetitive commercials that are displayed in some taxis. “It takes away from the whole experience. People try to turn it off all the time. They hate it. I don’t see that transferring to autonomous vehicles because there will be a backlash.”
Before that happens, Weiser theorized that ride-hail services might experiment with offering faster pickups for a monthly fee.
“Will I pay $500 a month to ensure that when I hit the ‘Lyft’ button to hail a ride, the car is there within five minutes every time?” Weiser questioned. “And if not, my fare is entirely free? We haven’t seen any of that. Right now the only differentiating payment models are [based on the] vehicle or the number of people inside the vehicle.”

About the author:

Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.

Deloitte Study: Trust in AD Technology is on the Rise

Acceptance for autonomous car technology has been increasing recently which is important for the industry. If nobody trusts the technology there will be no one to buy it. Autonomous driving is not only about benefits but also about challenges. Above all driverless cars shall contribute to higher road safety but experts fear the threat of hacking attacks and car manipulation.
In this environment you frequently find studies that ask for consumer opinions. Recent research shows that consumer confidence is climbing – this could be a result of growing PR and advertising expenses for autonomous vehicles. In the course of showcasing and testing events more and more people get to experience the technology. It can be assumed that this is another factor for the growing trust.

Deloitte Study on Consumer Trust

Lately Deloitte published the 2018 edition of its annual “Global Automotive Consumer Study”. Judging from last and this year’s data you can draw the conclusion that consumer trust in autonomous driving is on the way up. The requirements for consumer confidence stays the same as in 2017 – users demand functionality. If latter can be assured, 59% of the polled people would enter an autonomous vehicle. In 2017 67% were rather sceptical towards autonomous driving, that number shrank to 41%. On average 64% of the surveyed consumers are willing to spend extra money for driverless car technology – in the US and Japan is way below the average with around 40%. In Germany at least every second person could imagine to make additional expenses for autonomous vehicles.

Obstacles on the Road towards Autonomous Driving

The study also identified several obstacles that delay the complete implementation of the technology. These include large investments needed from the companies and a missing legal basis for autonomous driving. If there are no clear legal principles autonomous cars will unlikely penetrate the whole society. However, Deloitte expects the movement to pick up high speed once the legal issues are solved.

Brand Loyalty and Autonomous Driving?

Autonomous cars won’t break brand loyalty – so says the study. Especially in countries where many large car manufacturers have their origin like Germany, Japan and the US people pledge loyalty to traditional carmakers. Nevertheless, apart from Japan, Asian consumers tend to consider less established companies. Only a third of the surveyed users from Asia would consider a traditional car manufacturer.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: http://www.autonomes-fahren.de