I went to a seminar on this Tuesday. I heard the latest trend of automotive industry by a technical adviser of Japan Auto Parts Industries Association. As I’m engaged in the powertrain, I had known almost all information about the electrification trend he explained. The speaker talked about another trend autonomous driving. I also knew about the trend that Tesla was ahead of other auto makers. But I’d never seen a demonstration video of Tesla’s Autopilot he showed which was released a year ago.
It seems that a person drives to Tesla’s headquarters by using the Autopilot. He doesn’t hold the steering. From the beginning of the video clip, the car automatically drives in accordance with the traffic rule. It stops at “STOP” signs. When it passes by joggers, it reduces speed, and it accelerates after securing safety.
However, the point that I got a shock was that after it arrived at a building of Tesla, the diver got out of the car, soon, it started to probe parking space and autonomously made a parallel parking without a person.
The speaker told us that Tesla had already sold the Autopilot system in 2015. The first system was sold at $3,000 with automatic tracking, acceleration and deceleration control, lane change and automatic parking. The Enhanced Autopilot system released in 2016 advanced added by automatic driving on more complicated lanes, and “summon” function. It aims at the fully autonomous driving system in 2019.
While I’d heard the advancement of the autonomous driving, I thought that the actual realization of the autonomous cars would be far future. After seeing the Tesla’s demonstration video, it would be soon, probably after 2020 we would be able to choose a car with the autonomous driving function from many kinds of cars. That includes a possibility to initiate a change of the auto society, because we don’t need own cars.
To put into words, it’s natural and not interesting. But the video gave me a shock and I felt thrilled that something change is coming close.