Car industry players diverge on timescale for self-driving cars

Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:22pm EDT
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By Georgina Prodhan

BERLIN (Reuters) - Carmakers and suppliers gave widely differing timelines for the introduction of self-driving vehicles on Thursday, showing the uncertainties surrounding the technology as well as a split between cautious established players and bullish new entrants.

Chipmaker Nvidia (NVDA.O: Quote), facing direct competition with the world's top chipmaker after Intel's (INTC.O: Quote) $15 billion deal to buy autonomous driving technology firm Mobileye (MBLY.N: Quote) this week, gave the most optimistic predictions.

Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang forecast carmakers may speed up their plans in the light of technological advances and that fully self-driving cars could be on the road by 2025.

"Because of deep learning, because of AI (artificial intelligence) computing, we've really supercharged our roadmap to autonomous vehicles," he said in a keynote speech to the Bosch Connected World conference in Berlin.

Germany's Bosch [ROBG.UL], however, the world's biggest automotive supplier, gave a timetable as much as six years longer to get to the final stage before fully autonomous vehicles, and declined even to forecast when a totally self-driving car might take to the streets.

Progress is fraught by issues including who is liable when a self-driving car has an accident, bringing down the costs of sensor technology and guarding against hacking.

"Of course, we still have to prove that an autonomous car does better in driving and has less accidents than a human being," Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner told a news conference.

Nvidia has applied its market-leading expertise in high-end computer graphics to the intense visualization and simulation needs of autonomous cars, and has been working on artificial intelligence - teaching computers to learn to write their own software code - for a decade.   Continued...

Two self-driving electric minibuses are seen on the 130-metre (142-yard) test route between Gare de Lyon and Austerlitz train stations, the first regular line opened by the Paris transport company RATP, in Paris, France, January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen