The Truth about “Self-Driving” Cars by Steven E. Shladover
The auto industry and the press have oversold the automated car. Simple road encounters pose huge challenges for computers, and robotic chauffeurs remain decades away. Automated driving systems that rely on humans for backup are particularly problematic. Yet in the next decade we will see automatic-driving systems that are limited to specific conditions and applications. Automatic parking valets, low-speed campus shuttles, closely spaced platoons of heavy trucks and automatic freeway-control systems for use in dedicated lanes are all feasible and perhaps inevitable.
Basically, the industry divides car/driver automation into 5 levels, from (1) partial automation like adaptive cruise control to (5) full automation.
The author believes numb 5 is at least 60 years in the future due to the huge advances in software required. There are no existing methods to debug, validate, or “prove” that the system is safe. Research into those areas is just starting.
Number 3 where the human driver takes over in an emergency will probably never be implement due to the possibility of the human being distracted or even asleep.
Number 4 which is full automation but under limited circumstances, such as special highways and parking garages, may be available within 10 years.