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Current Challenges Facing Autonomous Vehicles

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According to MIT Technology Review’s Karen Hao, automated vehicles have three current hurdles to overcome. Automakers who are currently testing AV models of their own will need to hone in on these few objectives in the next few years. 


As you might have guessed, one of the primary obstacles self-driving vehicles face is safety. According to Amnon Shashua, CEO of Mobileye, the industry’s goal is to create an autonomous driving system that can perceive the road better than a human driver can. To do this, a self-driving vehicle’s perception system must achieve a failure rate of 1 incident for every 10 million hours of driving.

Currently, AVs experience such failures once every tens of thousands of hours. Researchers will have to keep tweaking camera, lidar, and radar technology used in these car’s systems to reach this level of accuracy in driving perception.

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Cost is the next challenge AV’s will have to overcome. Self-driving models must be affordable for the average consumer if they are to become a new sales trend. At the moment, using AVs in a ride-share context is more cost-effective than transitioning to individually-owned AVs, as Hao articulates. Shashua predicts that robo-taxis will emerge on the market around 2021 or 2022. Passenger AVs should arise a few years after that. 


The third hurdle AVs need to scale is functionality. Every time an AV makes a decision it has to err on either the side of safety or usefulness. For instance, an AV can travel well below the speed limit, to ensure that there’s a significant amount of time to respond to potential hazards. But this won’t be very convenient since we humans have busy lives and need to get to certain destinations quickly. AV programmers will need to fine-tune the autos’ software to establish the ethical framework the vehicles base their decisions on.  

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News Source: MIT Technology Review