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Honda Says Autonomous Cars are 15 Years Away, Cites Kangaroo Risks

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Google self-driving car old prototype

Photo credit: smoothgroover22

Nissan and Toyota have both set the year 2020 as a target date for fully autonomous vehicles, but one other Japanese automaker thinks that kind of timeline is a bit too optimistic. Self-driving cars are still at least 15 years in the future, according to a Honda engineer who has been working on them for the last three decades.

Honda’s autonomous technology expert, Yoichi Sugimoto, has been working on self-driving cars for the company since 1986. At this year’s 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, Sugimoto told reporters that it would take until “at least” 2030 before a fully-autonomous car reaches the market.

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“Today we cannot say the actual timeline for fully automated driving,” Sugimoto said. “Personally I think it’s not before 2030.”

What are the road blocks standing in the way?

“Technical issues, regulation issues and public acceptance,” Sugimoto elaborated. “We are just starting to learn about those kinds of issues.”

Sugimoto suggested that technology might first be used only in a small, closed precinct with special automated lanes, which he compared to driving in a “limited small community, kind of like a golf cart.”

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But for now, Sugimoto believes there are just too many unpredictable variables, including “some animals jumping into your lane.”

“In Australia, maybe a kangaroo; there are many deer in Japan and the United States,” said Sugimoto.

So there you have it—it will be at least another 15 years before artificial intelligence can learn to counter the unpredictable nature of the wily kangaroo.

News Source: Fox News