ADAS is Winner in Drive to Autonomy, Says Honda Chief

Mass adoption of driverless car technology is still a lot further off than the safety zealots expect.

That’s the view of Honda UK’s outgoing managing director Dave Hoggetts who leaves the role at the end of this month. Speaking to TU-Automotive he said the topic has been one of the dominating discussion in the automotive industry in the latter part of his career.

Yet, despite many early predictions that the technology is nearly market-ready, Hoggett believes there remain too many serious obstacles in its way. He said: “Just a little while ago people were saying we’d see autonomous cars in a couple of year’s time but it’s worked out that means a couple of years in ten because, seriously, that is not going to happen in that timescale.”

One of the biggest problems is the public’s perception of who or what is responsible for a vehicle when things go wrong. Hoggett explained: “The reason is the potential risk to the manufacturer is huge because if the car crashes you blame the manufacturer whereas, at present, when a car crashes with someone in control of it, you blame the individual. Humans make mistakes but machines aren’t allowed to.”

Insurance

Liability raises the all-important question of insurance against accident and personal injury. He said: “The insurance of any automotive product that claims to be autonomous is going to be the issue. As we have seen with one automaker in the US, the situation can very quickly get out of hand if you have one single accident. Every day, every car company in the world is having accidents because humans have allowed them to happen. Yet, as soon as you say it’s the carmaker’s fault, you’re into a very different ball game. So, you’d struggle to get insurance in those type of scenarios.”

Hoggett firmly believes the human involvement in vehicle control will dominate the driving landscape for quite some time to come. He said:“You will always need the override where the driver is ultimately responsible. It’s like with an aeroplane – they are almost fully automated but, at the end of the day, you want the pilot to be in charge of the landing, just in case. That’s the approach that I think will happen with the car industry as well.”

However, the path to autonomy has been a valuable source of innovations that are making the modern vehicle a great deal safer for both its occupants and pedestrians outside of the vehicle. Hoggett said: “What I do think will happen is that you will get a massive improvement in autonomous functions within vehicles.”

Yet, the prospect of rolling out all the autonomous features into every driving situation remains a challenging prospect said Hoggett. He added: “I think that next step towards taking the autonomous functions from the relatively safe place of a motorway and then put it in a town or an urban environment is really, really complicated.

“The number of possibilities and scenarios the car is capable of interpreting is simply incredible and that’s where the premise starts to fall apart. If you live in an autonomous world and look at the middle of a big city like London with pedestrians able to stop the car whenever they step out in front of them, once the pedestrian understands that how are you ever going to get about London? Things like this mean I just don’t see it being a practical proposition in the near term.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


One comment

  1. Avatar Awais Hashmi 17th March 2020 @ 1:21 am

    Yes, who is responsible for a mishap will remain an issue and needs to be settled. A way has to be found. Nevertheless, full autonomy can be a good possibility, though, if the vehicle is trained for each city individually to deal with its quirks. That means a vehicle trained for a specific city or equipped for a city can run only in that city. For each next city, they have to be retrained. Also, when the smart city paradigm takes off and the roadside and the pavement smart infrastructure and the edge infrastructure gets planted, the autonomous vehicles will have much easier time navigating and operating with less hardware/software on-board.

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