Apples and Oranges Still Incite Volvo Leaders

As we move toward the world where autonomous driving vehicles will be offered as an everyday occurrence we already see some companies talking about others’ technologies as if they are the same.  Whether this is jealousy over the fact that one company has been able to add some form of autonomous driving to their vehicles, albeit a system that can only take over on the highways, or the other company just wants the spot light for themselves the comparison is not equal to what is being offered and is only a step toward fully autonomous driving.

In a recent interview, Volvo’s Senior Technical Leader of Crash Avoidance called the technology aboard the current Tesla models “an unsupervised wannabe”.  He informed during this interview that a system which requires a driver to be prepared to take over at a moment’s notice because of the faint road lines or unfamiliar markings on the GPS is not a safety aspect of the vehicle at all and can do more harm than good.  In reality, he is probably correct.  If you were told by the vehicle that it would handle the driving for a while and then you had to instantly respond to take over the controls because of a differentiation in the road you might not want to use this system in the future.

While the Tesla Autopilot system installed in the vehicle is not claimed to be fully autonomous it does give owners a chance to let the vehicle take over all the driving duties for a period of time.  Because this system is only partial automatic, much the same as other systems already on the market, there are measures taken to ensure a driver is still alert at different intervals.  In this case you can’t just sit back and take a nap; instead, you must pay attention, just not as deeply as before.

What Volvo has in mind and is preparing to launch for testing is a fleet of Drive Me vehicles that are fully autonomous.  These vehicles are built to be able to handle every situation and allow you to be a passenger in your vehicle where you can take a nap, watch a show, read a book or anything other than driving.  Because these vehicles are fully autonomous Volvo does take the responsibility in case the vehicle is in a crash or the system malfunctions.

When you think about it this comparison is really apples to oranges.  Volvo is prepared with what will be three small fleets of these vehicles of the next couple years to see the testing is done in real-world driving situations so they can launch them for sale soon.  No doubt Tesla is working on the same thing, but hasn’t yet perfected it and isn’t, as far as we know, planning to launch a test fleet anywhere in the world just yet.  It will be interesting to see how the Volvo fleet does and how governments around the world react to fully autonomous driving, not to mention who will be held responsible in the event of a collision.

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