BMW’s future not only lies on electro-mobility, but also on autonomous driving, hence the recent investments in an excellence center in Munich. And while automakers are preparing the tech of the future, regulators and local governments are not equally ecstatic about the prospect of self-driving cars on public roads.
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Same sentiment is being shared by Ian Robertson, BMW’s special representative in the UK, who believes that regulation will ultimately curtail autonomous features. “I think Governments will actually say ‘okay, autonomous can go this far’”, he said. “It won’t be too long before Government says, or regulators say, that in all circumstances it will not be allowed.”
Robertson also said he thought humans would always be responsible for life-and-death decisions: “Even though the car is more than capable of taking an algorithm to make the choice, I don’t think we’re ever going to be faced where a car will make the choice between that death and another death.”
Furthermore, Robertson offered some insight into the self-driving fleet that BMW operates in Europe. According to the former Head of Sales and Marketing, BMW is currently testing autonomous cars regularly with runs of 1,000km between Munich and Trieste in northern Italy.
Each of the company’s self-driving cars logs 40 terabytes of data every day, 20 times the amount of information recorded by an Airbus A380 as it crosses the Atlantic.
And finally, Robertson touches on the regulators and potential barriers.
“The Highway Code… actually prevents autonomous driving. It is not allowed. And the Highway Code is a fundamental part of lots of other regulation.” Changes to UK driving laws are unlikely to emerge before 2021, though, as a three-year review into regulations was only recently announced.