At the Future Powertrain event March 2017 in Solihull UK, Tony Harper, Head of Research and Advanced Systems Engineering gave valuable insights into the reality of autonomous and electric vehicles. Talking of the trend to structural electronics as analysed in the IDTechEx report, Structural Electronics 2017-2027 he declared that, "Components cannot be structural passengers any more. The supply chain will be "massively disrupted" by the move to electric vehicles based on structural electronics and progressing towards fully autonomous options. A fundamental change is happening between the driver and the vehicle as it is instructed, sometimes verbally, to do something: it is not steered. "The whole concept of driveability has been predicated there being a human in the loop. Many of the decomposed targets for driveability are defined in terms that only a human can sense and perceive. In future, the primary control target for "thrust" is more likely to be highly coupled to pitch and yaw and related to comfort, wellbeing and efficiency when people are in the vehicle. When there are no passengers, the control target will be mission oriented eg automated valet parking."
Even calibration changes. There is some initial set up but it is essentially learned over time. Indeed, a car faces a more complex problem than an aircraft so "it is more complex and has more lines of code than an aircraft".
Professor Matthew Wellers MD of AVI Powertrain warned that claims that autonomy means no accidents are false because it can be "rubbish in rubbish out" with the software. All the challenges of navigation are not defined and they never will be. Private autonomous cars will not be a success. GM will not offer them as the opportunity is in commercial vehicles such as taxis. For more see IDTechEx report, Autonomous Electric Vehicles Land Water Air 2017-2027 and attend Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing at IDTechEx Show! Berlin May 10-11 2017.
Image source: IDTechEx photographs of slides