The autonomous or driverless cars are coming. Are we ready?


BEV20160712Without much fanfare, the automotive world has shifted into second gear in its development and information campaign on autonomous or driverless driving. And they are doing so in a big way.

At the recently-concluded Automotive Summit with the theme “Pathway to Global Green Automotive Hub” held at the Bitec Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, Rommel Juan, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP), learned about the advances in green and other technologies in Thailand’s automotive Industry.

As expected, the different representatives of auto car manufacturers in Thailand, as well as the different resource speakers in the forum, confirmed that the future direction of the world auto industry will indeed go the way of electric vehicles.

“Automakers such as Toyota, Nissan and BMW all talked about their various HEV Hybrid Electric Vehicles, PHEV Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles and BEV Battery Electric Vehicles which is also known as Full Electric Vehicles,” Juan said.

He disclosed that one revelation that stood out and was apparent in the forum was the progress and the advanced stage of development of autonomous or driverless vehicles. It is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. In the Philippines, we first saw this in an advertisement of a car that parks itself, without a driver operating the steering wheel.

Juan narrated that during the forum, BMW talked about its autonomous driving technology, which promotes safety in driving as it senses driving obstructions and road hazards and avoids accidents. Scania also discussed the self-driving mining vehicles that are now widely used in Europe. The Singapore Port Authority is now also organizing a bid to automate all the vehicles in its ports, which it expects will result in increased efficiency and productivity in port operations.

“It seems the reality of autonomous driving is upon us and not just experiments from tech companies such as Google and from innovators such as Tesla,” Juan said. “From what we learned at the forum, all the major car companies have been developing their own autonomous driving technology and the development is ahead of anything that we are aware of.”

Juan cautioned though that obviously, consumers are still torn and are unprepared to accept the reality that in the near future, cars will no longer require a human driver. “It may be because of safety issues or just plain resistance to change. But this is not stopping the auto industry in introducing more proofs of concept and various autonomous driving platforms.”

Indeed, the age of driverless vehicles is close at hand. Are we ready for it?


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