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Regular use of self-driving cars at least a decade away: MIT report

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a report compiled by experts on the future of work. One of their theories is that driverless cars on public roads is a distant prospect.

November 19, 2020 / 02:53 PM IST
A self-driving car by Google.

A self-driving car by Google.

Over the last three years, a team appointed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was working on a project to create a data-based vision about the future of work and the role of automation. The report was released on November 17. And one of its theories is that it would take a decade or more for driverless cars to become a mainstream mode of travel.

“Analysis of the best available data suggests that the reshaping of mobility around autonomy will take more than a decade and will proceed in phases, beginning with systems limited to specific geographies,” the report said. “More automated systems will eventually spread as technological barriers are overcome, but current fears about a rapid elimination of driving jobs are overstated.”

Further on, the document said, “Research suggests that the grand visions of automation in mobility will not be fully realized in the space of a few years.  The variability and complexity of real-world driving conditions require the ability to adapt to unexpected situations that current technologies have not yet mastered.”

The project team comprised professors and graduate students, researchers from other universities and an advisory board of executives, government officials, educators and labour leaders.

Aviation tragedies and accidents during trial runs of self-driving cars have made people and officials cautious, the researchers observed.

“ The recent tragedies and scandals surrounding the death of 346 people in two Boeing 737 MAX crashes stemming from flawed software, as well as accidents involving self-driving car testing programs on public roads, have increased public and regulatory scrutiny, adding caution about how quickly these technologies will be widely dispersed,” the report said. “The software in driverless cars remains more complex and less deterministic than that in airliners; we still lack technology and techniques to certify it as safe.”
Akshay Sawai
first published: Nov 19, 2020 02:53 pm

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