This past week, the CEO of Audi reaffirmed the German carmaker's commitment to the development and implementation of autonomous driving functions and put an official timeline on bringing the next generation of its piloted driving technology to market.
In a speech to delegates at the 19th Handelsblatt Annual Conference in Munich, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said: "We are assuming that a series-built vehicle with a piloted driving function will be technically feasible this decade." Although company spokespeople have hinted that the self-driving and self-parking technology the company demonstrated at this year's Consumer Electronics Show could soon become an everyday reality, this is the first time Audi has cited a specific timescale in terms of implementation.
Of the two demonstrator cars showcased in Las Vegas earlier this month, one could take over the driving in traffic jams and other congested situations as well as on highways, while the second demonstrator could identify and automatically maneuver into and out of parking spaces via a smartphone-operated remote control.
In his address, Stadler also indicated that the ball is now firmly in the court of policymakers and lawmakers, who will have to accelerate the formation of legislation regarding responsibility and liability for piloted driving technology. This is currently a bigger stumbling block than the costs of or levels of technology involved in delivering the systems.
Stadler is also convinced that innovative services above and beyond purely car-related services will constitute an important part of future driving: "The car of tomorrow will convey not only passengers but also information," he said, indicating that increased autonomy or piloted driving would make cars safer, while greater connectivity is opening the doors to a host of other features and possibilities and that these features need to be "used meaningfully."