BMW head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson thinks ‘true’ autonomous driving is still a long way off, despite promises from some manufacturers that it’s just around the corner.
“It depends what you mean when you say ‘autonomous driving’,” he said. “Some people class things like automatic cruise control as autonomous driving, but it isn’t. It’s a step along the way.
“We determine it in layman’s terms as feet off, hands off, eyes off, brain off. Feet off is done — we have automatic cruise control — and I can take my hands off the wheel for up to 15 seconds with steering assist. But that steering assistant then needs me to put my hands back on the wheel, the primary reason being to make sure I’m still responsible.
“That 15 seconds will become one minute, five minutes and so on, but there’s an extended period before in all circumstances that becomes hands off and feet off for a meaningful time. Eyes off and brain off is still many, many years away.
“While the technology will advance, I think the legislation, the responsibility and the societal questions relating to a machine making decisions to do with life and death means we’re not quite ready for that.”