Speaking on stage prior to the unveiling of the self-driving Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion concept, Mercedes-Benz chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche outlined some of the challenges facing autonomous vehicles.
In his opinion, Zetsche believes that there are a number of major obstacles that must be hurdled before self-driving cars can make the jump from concept car stage and the motor show floor to the production line.
One challenge that's ever present for anything connected to the internet is keeping customers’ data safe and secure. This, as we've seen, is a tough challenge whether you’re a large financial institution, retailer, movie studio or car maker.
Another barrier is the missing legal framework for dealing with responsibility “in the unlikely event that an autonomous driving car crashes”. Governments, or lawyers and judges, will have to figure out who bears the greater burden, the car company for a potentially faulty piece of software or the human sitting the driver's seat for not intervening in time or at all.
Just as troublesome “are the ethic aspects if an accident is truly unavoidable”. Examples Zetsche offered up included the only choice for the car being either “a collision with a small car or a large truck, driving into a ditch or into a wall, or sideswiping the mother with the stroller or the 80-year old grandpa”.
According to Zetsche “these old questions are industry issues, and we have to solve them in a joint effort”.
As for public acceptance, Daimler's CEO thinks the public will likely be more receptive to the idea of autonomous cars if drivers have positive experiences with assisted driving features, such as adaptive cruise control, full auto brake and lane keeping assistance.
Finally, autonomous cars also need to make the leap from being "technically feasible to financially viable”, a step Zetsche is confident that Mercedes-Benz can do soon.