How the recent Tesla Autopilot fatality could actually speed up autonomous car development

The world has witnessed enormous advances in autonomous passenger vehicle technologies over the last dozen years. The performance of microprocessors, memory chips and sensors needed for autonomous driving has greatly increased, while the cost of these components has decreased substantially. Software for controlling and navigating these systems has similarly improved. Buoyed by notable milestones and relentless progress in autonomous technologies, a self-reinforcing cycle emerged – optimism by industry, academia and the public leading to more effort to develop autonomous technologies, with consequent successes generating even more optimism. The successes are real. In 2004, not a single vehicle completed even 10 miles of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge for autonomous navigation across 150 miles of the Mojave Desert. Nineteen months later five vehicles were up to the task. In 2007, six teams completed the far more difficult DARPA Urban Challenge, which involved navigating through a city-type environment with other autonomous and human-driven vehicles obeying California driving laws.

18. Oktober 2016

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