By MarketWatch, MarketWatch
It’s January in Detroit, and that means the world’s automotive press is braving the winter chill to report on the current and future state of the car industry. A big theme at the North American International Auto Show this year: self-driving cars.
Of course, there’s a whole range of time lines when it comes to predicting the widespread adoption of cars that drive themselves around town. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas just ahead of the Motor City festivities, Nvidia /zigman2/quotes/200467500/composite NVDA +0.96% and Audi /zigman2/quotes/207972355/delayed DE:NSU -0.63% announced plans to put autonomous cars on the road by 2020. (Here’s what Nividia’s automotive general manager had to say about it to MarketWatch.)
But that optimistic prediction is nowhere near as bold as the one recently issued by prominent Georgia Tech engineer Henrik Christensen in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune :
‘My own prediction is that kids born today will never get to drive a car.’
He went on to explain that while there will be some barriers to push through, the pros will outweigh the cons and propel the technology ahead faster than many expect.
“I love to drive my car, but it’s a question of how much time people waste sitting in traffic and not doing something else,” he said. “With autonomous, driverless cars, we can put twice as many vehicles on the road as we have today, and do it without improving the infrastructure.”
A stretch? Without a doubt. But there’s no denying that manufacturers are making this technology a priority. In Detroit, for instance, Nissan /zigman2/quotes/207656007/delayed NSANY +0.85% showed off its Vmotion 2.0 concept car, GM /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -1.87% talked about its hands-free Super Cruise technology coming out later this year, and, perhaps most notably, Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +2.40% showed off a peculiar minivan from its Waymo driverless-car division, to name just few showcasing their AI wares.