Companies such as Ford, General Motors and Google — to name a few — have targeted 2020 as the year that their autonomous vehicles will hit the road.
One auto industry official, though, sees the term autonomous being flung around so frequently these days and is skeptical about car manufacturers actually delivering on fully autonomous vehicles by four years.
Following Toyota's news conference Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Tech Times asked Toyota Research Institute (TRI) CEO and executive technical advisor, Dr. Gill Pratt, if the public is likely to get more advances in driver assist technologies than true autonomous cars by 2020.
His response? Advancements in both areas ... but not quite a 100 percent autonomous car by 2020.
"I think we will see both. We will see fully autonomous systems that work under luminous set of constraints — either speed or traffic of any of the things I spoke about up there. [Autonomous vehicles] tend to need maps that are extremely good and some parts of the world aren't mapped well or the road is actually different than what the map is, right? It will work under under limited circumstances, I believe, by 2020 in fully- autonomous mode," Pratt told Tech Times amidst a pool of reporters. "We are also going to see, as has been the case in the past, a continuous improvement of the driver assist systems for improving the safety as well. So, I think we are going to see advances in both of them."
He added while automakers have made great strides in the autonomous space, that 2020 is just too soon for them to beat challenges that they're faced with in the area.
"I am skeptical that we will be done with both in four years," he continued. "That's a very short time and we have a long way to go [with the full development of autonomous cars]. And again, just because we are 90, 95 percent of the way there doesn't mean if you've been climbing a mountain and you've been walking through the foothills — and that's 95 percent of the miles you have to go — that the last five percent when you have to climb up to the peak ... that's the hard part. It's going to take us a lot longer to get up the rest of the way of the peak than it has been the easy part."
That being said, TRI, and Toyota as a whole, are open to the idea of collaborating with a fellow automaker or technology company to deliver a fully autonomous car, with Pratt additionally telling Tech Times that the company has had "informal talks with just about every player in the field" and "would love to entertain ideas for collaborations."