Bosch blames the delayed roll-out of autonomous vehicles on a jungle of red tape and a wave of consumer scepticism rather than the limitations of the systems.
The German supplier’s senior vice-president of automated driving, Kay Stepper, told Autocar that its engineers have already cleared the technological hurdles.
“We need to differentiate between technical and non-technical problems,” he explained at CES. “At the moment we can honestly say from the technological, hardware and software sides that we have what we need to roll out [autonomous technology] tomorrow. It’s here. Yes, we have much more testing and validation to do and more refinement to do, but we’re there.”
Despite this, no self-driving cars are available commercially in 2020.
“The major obstacles are the non-technical ones, like the regulatory framework in different regions,” said Stepper. “It’s very different in Europe than in China or the US, and that will very much impact the timing of the roll-out.” Stepper added that American lawmakers cast the technology in a more favourable light than others.
Consumer acceptance is another hurdle that Bosch, its partners and its rivals need to collectively clear.
“I’m excited about autonomous driving, and many of our customers are, but not everyone is,” Stepper pointed out. “There’s a good level of animosity in parts of the population. Some have a hard time accepting this as an everyday reality.”
Stepper believes self-driving vehicles will hit the road by 2025 but they won’t be ubiquitous. He identified ride-hailing services and commercial haulage as the likeliest areas of application.
It will take more time for a firm to sell the public a car without a steering wheel or pedals. The industry will get there, Stepper believes, but he stressed that Bosch’s goal isn’t to make driving illegal.