The technology needed is already here: cameras, sensors, radars and GPS positioning all working jointly to transform our upcoming autos into fully autonomous, self-driving machines.
But the Japanese automakers – coming from a country known for its desire to innovate – are still rather cautious then let’s say companies such as Google or Tesla Motors, predicting that fully driverless vehicles will come to life later than 2025. During the Tokyo Motor Show taking place this week, Nissan, the second largest Japanese automaker will display a concept car that previews its latest efforts into autonomous driving – the prototype that could also point how the next generation Leaf will pan out has a retractable steering wheel and message-flashing windshield, joining the drive from Toyota or Honda to exhibit self-driving capable vehicles. Meanwhile Tesla Motors has already introduced its semi-autonomous Autopilot feature this month and Google is testing its own-designed vehicles capable only of autonomous driving – and both companies envision fully driverless cars hitting the roads by the turn of the decade.
Instead, Japanese carmakers believe the introduction will take place a little later, after 2025 – and their approach signals the rupture between the way traditional automakers and technology companies act. The latter are willing to introduce beta versions for trial purposes and then deliver ongoing updates – Japan’s carmakers for example view the approach as simply playing out with features that are not ready yet. Carmakers are also very weary of the liabilities that could stem from safety features rushed into production that could fail. “In the auto industry, a beta version that’s not 100 percent complete is not acceptable,” comments Tatsuo Yoshida, an auto industry analyst with Barclays Plc. “They may miss the opportunities for the future, but at the same time, traditional, established car companies have to maintain some level of integrity or practicality in the real world.”