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Autonomous Driving: Revolution or Evolution?

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Alfred Eckert, Head of Advanced Engineering at Chassis & Safety, and Thomas Gallner, Overall Vehicle E/E Architecture. Both work for Continental in Germany. It was a great conversation and very enlightening about the what the future holds in terms of safety and autonomous vehicles. We also discussed the potential of moving to a 48 volt power supply to supplement the current 12 volt system in cars. The full interview is available by clicking on the image below:

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Autonomous driving has come up in quite a few discussions recently. Some people express excitement at the prospect of being able to relax in the car, others express fear of not being fully in control. Yet a third group seems to despair at the idea that the car as-we-know-it may cease to exist. Admittedly, I am a car-enthusiast and the prospect of such a revolutionary change is daunting. However, it’s unlikely that the transition into autonomous vehicles will be quite so dramatic and revolutionary. According to Alfred Eckert,  “…in the future, there will be cars. There will be a steering wheel in front of the driver. There will be pedals…the process needs to change fluidly. You cannot say, okay, now you have to drive this vehicle without a steering wheel. Can you imagine the ensuing discussion?”

Continental has set a time frame for their development of autonomous vehicle systems. Their goal is that by 2016, vehicles will be available with systems allowing driver’s to transfer control over to the car in heavy traffic situations up to about 30 km/hr. By 2025, fully automated driving should be available but only for highway scenarios.

Driving enthusiast or not, you have to admire the work these engineers are doing. Not only is the technology amazing, but its potential to save lives is incredibly important.

Read the full interview and share your thoughts.

Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ

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