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Autonomous Vehicles: Auto and tech team up to bring self-driving closer

Self-driving cars may have been a bit oversold as an imminent revolution in transportation, there is still little doubt that they will become part of the traffic in the foreseeable future. In fact, most relevant players in the automotive market and big tech have set plans in motion to develop autonomous vehicles. However, they will need to overcome several regulatory challenges, specially those related to product liability. Much more pronounced in the case of passenger driverless vehicles, regulatory hurdles may promote the development in other segments of the transportation industry. For instance, driverless trucks are more likely to hit the road in the short term, since they would only need to have implemented the mapping software for their fixed route. Also, driverless delivery vehicles are likely to become a reality soon in some cities.

In the meantime, there are still several levels of autonomy to be achieved that could make driving easier and safer. Systems like automated breaking, blind spot monitors and pedestrian detection are not yet part of most popular new models, and other features like night vision assistance and driver attention monitor are still a rarity among new mainstream models. Also, the rapid emergence of mobility as a service (MaaS) companies like Lyft or Uber, has aroused a sense of urgency among stakeholders to identify ways to keep growing in revenue and increasing profit margins. In that sense, robotaxis will certainly contribute to achieve both goals, as autonomous vehicles would cut the middleman and improve capacity and quality of the service.

Furthermore, driverless vehicle demands cutting-edge technology, as real-time transmission and storage of those bits of data represent a significant challenge for the AV industry. For these vehicles to take decisions in a split second, it is paramount that the transmission of data between hardware and software is fast and reliable. Also, self-driving cars are supposed to be connected to each other and other relevant servers, so further development of 5G technology will be needed. Lastly, these processes will need to be streamlined as much as possible to be manageable, as data storage is quite emissions intensive.