We face a lengthy journey of thirty years until technology will be able to guarantee autonomous driving at SAE level 5 (no steering wheel, no pedals). This forecast set by Chris Urmson is as of today probably an accepted source at large in this matter.
We recently witnessed a feat that was projected for a decade in the future, and yet it is now history: the defeat of man vs. AI in a game of go.
Even if we may very soon reach level 4 (human may be required to take control), still the ultimate challenge for AI on the road is the complexity of the urban landscape, mostly of its dwellers. This will likely limit the scope of autonomy in vehicles in the next decades. Or… maybe this is precisely the fact that will spur the speed of evolution… Harken to me now!
Will people still want to take the steering wheel to drive the last bit of their journey deep into the city? Or will they prefer to stop at a park-and-ride and do the last bit in the subway. Or on foot.
Could it as well be that cities and autonomous vehicle AI will meet at a near point in time and in convenience, such as traffic being funneled throughout only a few streets leaving all others free to citizens on foot?
Not even bicycles allowed, on-food isles in cities would be the final dream of urbanists, a paradise in earth for citizens and an utopia that can be real, just by the power of convenience.
Picture credits: SAE International