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Ogi was joined by Catherine McCullough, Executive Director of the Intelligent Car Coalition and Jonathan Gitlin, Automotive Editor for tech website Ars Technica, which hosted the chat. He was also joined by a highly informed and inquisitive audience that provided no shortage of intelligent conversation around the technical challenges, legal and regulatory hurdles, and the ethical implications of self-driving cars.
Ogi started off the conversation with this assessment: “We are 1-3 years away from early use cases” for autonomous driving.
When reader Chris asked, if he’ll be able to focus solely on his hot slice of pizza and let the car do all the driving, Ogi countered that he will “still need to be AWAKE and SOBER” should the car need him to take back control. It’s the difference between “Highly Automated Driving”, where we’re headed next, and “Fully Automated,” which will come a few years after that.
Catherine, whose Washington D.C. based organization is much closer to government regulations surrounding connected cars, was quick to chime in that technology is leading the way to this future, while the legal, regulatory and policy fields are playing catch up.
Reader Ryan asked a question about the “passion and “enjoyment” of driving that hit close to home for both Ogi and Catherine. Will autonomous cars limit our ability to drive, he asks on behalf of car enthusiasts.
“I ask myself this a lot,” Ogi wrote. “As our team works on building automated driving technology, I find myself wanting to buy a stick shift.”
Still a big motivator for HERE, Ogi wrote, is saving lives. With 90 per-cent of accidents caused by human error, this technology is intended to save lives, he added.
Let’s also not forget that there is value in learning how to drive, Catherine wrote, because it teaches people how to handle power responsibly.
“I must admit that I am one of those who truly enjoy driving, and I don’t think I will ever purchase a vehicle that has no availability for human input,” she wrote. “In other words, while I value their innovative spirit, Google will have to pry my stick shift out of my cold, dead hand,” she added.
Ogi was also more than happy to answer questions from readers Chris W and Petrut M about mapping for automation. Ogi talked about how maps for automated driving are much more precise than those for navigation. You need to map things like slope, curvature, height and the bank of the road, and they need to be constantly refreshed.
“We plan to have key roads mapped to the precision necessary for Automated Driving, and we will do it in time for the launch, roughly 2018-2020 timeframe,” he wrote.
When Petrut M asked if OpenStreetMaps can create the same maps, Ogi was quick to counter that:
“The level of precision required for automated driving can today only be achieved by professional mapping vehicles, like the ones Nokia HERE and Google have.”
If you want to read the full chat, the transcript is available here.