Friday 24 May 2019

Days of driverless cars are closer - but they still have to conquer twisting Irish back roads

True autonomy is called Level 5 ability – where cars drive without any human input. Photo: PA
True autonomy is called Level 5 ability – where cars drive without any human input. Photo: PA
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Today's seven-year-olds may never have to learn to drive - the cars of the future could do it for them.

But there are major hurdles to be cleared before fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) take to our roads and safely end the need for a driver to be at the wheel.

A glimpse of the future was given by global experts at a summit in Killarney, Co Kerry, as the worlds of traditional cars and cutting-edge digital technologies intersected.

John Cormican, general manager at Shannon-based Jaguar Land Rover Ireland, told the Electronomous conference the chances are his seven-year-old son "will never have to drive".

His company has become a major player in the emerging market and has sparked hopes it and the country as a whole will become global leaders in auto-related technologies.

Mr Cormican emphasised just how massive changes for transport would be over the next couple of decades as we increasingly switch to electric, connectivity and autonomous driving.

"The dynamic is changing - from end to end," he said.

But he echoed other speakers, warning that true autonomous driving could be as far away as 15-20 years.

True autonomy is called Level 5 ability - where cars drive without any human input.

Experts such as San Francisco-based Philip McNamara of MobilityX said it was "relatively easy" to have a car self-drive on some city streets in the United States.

But it was a totally different proposition giving a car the all-clear to negotiate rural Irish back roads.

The Government plans to ban all non-electric cars by 2030. That deadline has been criticised for being over- ambitious.

Irish Independent

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