While attending this week's Freescale Technology Forum in Orlando, FL, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Peter Schulmeyer, director, strategy and marketing for the company's Transportation and Standard Products Group.
After a briefing on Freescale's take on the state of microelectonics developments across the breadth of automotive applications, our thoughts turned to the prospect of autonomous vehicles. Schulmeyer noted the DARPA Grand Challenge as a boost to realizing such vehicles. "These vehicles are closer than people think," he said. The advent of such systems as lane departure warning and self-parking mark the start of commercial technology that will be integrated into autonomous cars.
"The problem is transitioning from warning to control," Schulmeyer added, going the last 10% where the driver could still have final control of assist systems to full autonomy. He feels such vehicles could be on the road in 2015-2020, but most likely not in the U.S. because of the litigation climate here.
In closed our talk, I noted such cars would give aging Baby Boomers freedom of mobility longer, and mused that self-driving cars might mark the end of the designated driver, because you could now drink, but not have to drive.