Dieter Zetsche, Daimler CEO envisions:
“Two roads to full autonomy, one being the more evolutionary one where basically more and more assistance systems kind of automatically lead to a fully autonomous car. The other one is more revolutionary … where first in restricted areas you have fully autonomous cars and over time you expand the area where you can do that. And I would say in restricted areas you can see fully autonomous cars in the latter path around the turn of the decade.”
The current road seems to sway to the more evolutionary path. This is to be expected since the technology is so new. However, as Apple is years away from the release of its car, it seems it will have no choice but to be revolutionary. Over the years, as Apple is developing its vehicle, this technology will grow and undergo an immense amount of testing. In order for the company to bring something to the table, and Apple will have it no other way, it will have to exceed technologies already in place by companies like Tesla.
At the recent Geneva Motor Show, much attention was given to autonomous driving. Not necessarily in the physical sense of the displays, but in discussions among executives, patrons, and media. Most believe that this is all coming by the end of the decade and summoning a “driverless” car for hourly use is a real possibility. Mercedes is well on its way to “full” autonomy with examples like its E-Class luxury sedan:
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class luxury sedan from Daimler AG already offers wide-ranging, optional driver assistance technology. The latest version of the car can avoid collisions at intersections by recognizing crossing traffic and braking. It can help drivers fight crosswinds, automatically brake for pedestrians, warn drivers if they’re getting drowsy, and park itself. It can assist avoidance maneuvering, first by helping the driver steer and then by bringing the car back onto a straight path in a controlled way afterward.
Nissan claims it will release a vehicle with basic autonomy soon and that by 2020, possibly the year of the Apple Car, it will have multiple, mainstream, affordable vehicles with autonomy.
GM has already initialized an app for car sharing. On the campus of the University of Michigan, the company has 21 vehicles available. This concept would be ideally paired with autonomous vehicles in the future. Colin Bird, IHS analyst agreed:
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and car-sharing such as GM’s Maven or Daimler’s Car2Go would “in the long term merge into one thing, a highly autonomous on-demand network of cars. That’s the long-term vision.”
Automakers are seeming determined to assure that companies like Apple, Google, and even Uber don’t trump them on these future endeavors.
While Uber is already taking the world by storm with its service, and Google is actively testing autonomous software, Apple is waiting in the wings and watching intently. If the company follows its historic track record, it can only be assumed that a compelling and revolutionary autonomous product will ensue.