Finally an Industry Leader Who is Frank About the Future of Autonomous Cars

Proponents of self-driving cars can list off their world-changing virtues:

  • Computers can't get distracted; removes driver error from the equation
  • No more traffic; cars are all coordinated
  • No need to own a personal car; driverless cars can pick you up anywhere
  • Cars can run errands for you

There's certainly reason to gush about a utopic future this technology could bring, but only if it works. The part nobody likes to talk about is the many hurdles that must be overcome before vehicles can become truly autonomous—hurdles like snow covering road signs and clogging sensors, and hacking.

Everyone in the auto industry knows there are some major dragons to slay before they can get self-driving cars in production, but Ford's newly-appointed CEO Jim Hackett seems to be the only one talking about it honestly, in public.

"We don't know that autonomous vehicle intelligence in the future will all be delegated to a service that no one owns but everyone uses," Hackett told the San Francisco Chronicle last month. He says that while Ford will be producing highly-autonomous cars, there are no pretenses of replacing traditional car ownership with self-driving taxis, and acknowledges that car intelligence advanced enough to operate entirely without human help is a long way off.

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