Special report: Tech and the future of transportation (free PDF)

The autonomous age promises everything from self-driving cars to driverless delivery vehicles—but what impact will it have on industries, companies, and individuals? This ebook, based on the latest special feature from ZDNet and TechRepublic, looks at emerging autonomous transport technologies and how they will affect society and the future of business.

From the ebook:

If you were to talk to a technology optimist about autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars, you’d probably hear about how revolutionary the technology is and how much it will disrupt markets around the world. And it’s true: autonomous vehicles will revolutionize trucking and personal transportation, among other things. But it’s not going to happen tomorrow.

It will take years, maybe decades, for driverless vehicles to reach widespread adoption. The technology behind these innovations is getting closer to achieving full autonomy every day, but the industry still faces obstacles in liability and societal acceptance, as well as negative consumer response to disaster stories.

The technology is robust and getting better every day, with developments like sensor fusion, said 451 Research research director Christian Renaud, but that same technology will play into liability issues.

“What’s still an area of development is the decision-making processes that go into the corner cases,” Renaud said.

The liability issue
Some 90-95 percent of driving happens along the same route you commute everyday with the same stop lights and traffic patterns, according to Renaud. Those are “relatively trivial to optimize for,” he said, and they are “solved problems right now” for autonomous vehicles. But, teaching the artificial intelligence (AI) systems in the car to account for a deer running in front of a car, or someone intentionally trying to cause a wreck for insurance fraud, are completely different issues.

Autonomous vehicles will coexist with traditional vehicles for the next 50 years or so, Renaud said, so the AI has to account for all these other models as well, including older vehicles with their own mechanical issues.

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