Autonomous driving not a question of technology, managers say

September 11, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Drivers who summon their vehicles out of the underground garage with their smartphone and then continue their ride in a laid-back manner while the silicon chauffeur direct the car through the traffic: This scenario could be reality in a few years, shows a representative survey among top managers in the automotive industry, carried out by German IT industry association Bitkom in the run-up of the IAA motor show. However, the biggest roadblock preventing that autonomous driving will become reality is not technology, the managers said.

According to the survey, 48 percent of the respondents expect that autonomous vehicles will prevail within the next 15 years. 2 Percent event think that this will be the case earlier. Only 6 percent expressed scepticism in that they said this way of driving will “never” become commonplace.


The survey shows that digitisation will fundamentally change individual mobility and lead to new, hitherto unseen ways of travelling. For instance, the car and the smartphone will merge in terms of functionality. The link between car and smartphone makes it possible, for instance, to lock doors remotely or read out status data from the car, such as fuel level. Cars will become integral part of the digital lifestyle. “The car is no longer just a means of transportation – it will become a mobile data centre that assumes many tasks for us”, says Bitkom president Thorsten Dirks.


The vehicle of the future will also be integrated into an intelligent traffic networks infrastructure that enables them to communicate within milliseconds with fellow cars – for instance if a vehicle ahead crashes. Thus, the receiving vehicle automatically can brake, significantly reducing reaction time. This technology will make traffic flowing more efficiently and help to reduce accidents and traffic stalls. 86 percent of the respondents expressed their belief that in ten years interconnected traffic safety systems will lead to significantly fewer accidents.


A prerequisite of a smart traffic infrastructure however will be that the vehicles will be capable of transmitting data, for example their exact location, direction and speed. 85 percent of the respondents said they would advocate a legal obligation of vehicles to provide such data, with the majority said that such an obligation should be effective for anonymised data.


The transition to connected and autonomous driving is also changing car buyers selection criteria. All respondents agreed that internet connection for cars is becoming a buying criterion. 96 percent