Want a self-driving car? Be prepared for a long wait

Car manufacturers don't believe fully autonomous vehicles will be commonplace within a decade, instead promising cars that can drive themselves in limited areas, as well as fix certain problems and communicate with other vehicles.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Car makers have played down the likelihood of self-driving vehicles being widespread within a decade.

Just under one in five of those polled for IBM's Automotive 2025: Industry without borders report believes it will be routine for cars to drive themselves in all situations by 2025. The survey questioned 175 executives from automotive OEMs, suppliers, and other companies in 21 countries.

Instead the vast majority, 87 percent, felt partially-automated driving, such as an extension of today's self-parking or lane-change-assist technologies would be commonplace. Moreover, 55 percent said highly-automated driving, where an onboard system recognises its limitations and calls the driver to take control when needed, would also be a feature of vehicles by 2025.

The execs expect cars will have the ability to take control and be able to drive cars in "designated areas where vehicles, infrastructure and the environment are controlled". Most also believe the additional safety that results from automated driving will be a significant selling point for vehicles.

The car of 2025 will be connected to other vehicles and computers, be able to resolve faults and learn from experiences, executives told IBM.

Vehicles will tailor the information they present and vehicle setup to the occupants, reflecting personal preferences for car controls, seat positions, music, videos and reading material, as well as displaying medical information about the driver.

To that end, they expect some drivers will give the car access to personal information in exchange for better safety. For example, a driver with a heart condition could authorise the monitoring of vital signs. If the vehicle senses a potential heart attack, the driver would be alerted, the vehicle would automatically slow to park, and, if necessary, medical services contacted.

Cars will also connect to services providing information on traffic, weather and other events that might affect a journey.

Almost three-quarters of those surveyed believe cars will have the ability to observe and learn from the behaviours of the driver and occupants, the handling of the vehicle and the surrounding environment to "optimise" the journey. These features will extend to vehicles locating problems with the car, scheduling fixes and even advising other vehicles with similar issues.

The results of the survey were revealed during the Automotive News World Congress event in Detroit this week,

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