Automotive supplier Continental plans to invest 100 million euro on research and development of autonomous driving technology.
Continental already has almost 1, 300 engineers working to develop advanced driver-assistance systems. So far the company offers several technologies that help motorists reduce the burden of driving, such as lane-departure warning, emergency brake assist and adaptive cruise control.
Continental officials see the road towards self-driving vehicles coming in three main stages. The first one is the partially automatic driving stage, which means that a vehicle is operating itself at low speeds (up to 18 miles an hour) in stop-and-go traffic, able to control the braking and acceleration and even stop and start the vehicle if needed. The only thing the driver has to do is to steer. According to specialists, a version of this technology could hit the market in 2016.
The nest step would be the highly automatic driving, to reach the market in 2020, which includes automated steering at low and high speeds and more complex situations compared with the partially automatic systems. The third step is the fully automated driving, expected in 2025, a technology that could control a car on a long road trip, with no driver contribution.
“Guaranteed road safety at the highest level is the indispensable basis on which automated driving must be built,” said Dr. Elmar Dagenham, Chairman of the Executive board of Continental.