Editorial

Autonomous or electrical – a matter of preference?

09.11.12 | Redakteur: Peter Koller

Peter Koller, Executive Editor
Peter Koller, Executive Editor (Foto: ELEKTRONIKPRAXIS)

A vast upheaval is in store for the automotive industry.

And no, I’m not talking about partial or full drive technology electrification that is still making rather slow progress. I’m talking about releasing the vehicle, as a means of transport, so that it no longer depends on its driver. Google, VW and others have developed prototypes that are quite advanced by now and make one thing clear: the dawn of the era of the autonomous vehicle is just around the corner.

This paradigm change has enormous implications - and many of them are positive. With autonomous vehicles on the roads, traffic can flow more smoothly because autonomous vehicles make rational decisions and communicate with each other, thus preventing congestion and accidents. We arrive at work more quickly, consume less energy and can make much better use of the time spent in our car: work, entertainment - or an additional 15 minutes’ nap. Of course, there are still a lot of unsettled questions, but they are more related to legal issues, for example, responsibility in case component failure in an autonomous control system causes an accident.

The market analysts from Gartner, however, are optimistic. They estimate that it will only take 5 to 10 years until this technology has achieved a relevant degree of coverage. I feel inclined to agree. After all, the attractiveness of autonomous control systems differs significantly from that of electric drives. While the latter offer the essential but quite abstract benefit of a more favorable ecobalance - however, at the expense of numerous personal drawbacks like limited reach, defined battery life and questionable re-sale value - autonomous vehicles provide their drivers with individually perceptible advantages, see above.

Maybe there is a chance that the autonomous vehicle paves the way for its electric counterpart. Autonomous AND electrical - maybe this combination will be the killer application that finally takes private traffic into the 21st century.

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