You know the label on a vehicle’s sideview mirror that reads, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”?
Perhaps something similar could be said about autonomous vehicles (AVs): They’re closer than we expect.
Now, most industry experts agree that full SAE Level 5 driverless vehicles – which can drive themselves anywhere, at any speed, under any conditions – are more than a decade away. So, from a robots-ruling-the-road perspective, AVs appear to be far out.
But when you look at just one step down on the SAE scale, to Level 4, where vehicles can operate without a human driver but within particular limitations – such as geofenced areas, weather conditions and speed – those AVs are much closer to making an impact. In fact, Level-4-capable vehicles are already starting to operate on public roads in a growing number of U.S. cities.
Take, for example, the Beep (www.go-beep.com) autonomous shuttle program that launched with two vehicles in September in Lake Nona, Florida, a fast-growing master-planned community in southeast Orlando.