Tuesday, 06 June 2017 11:24

Why Autonomous Vehicles are Suddenly Taking Off

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We’ve all heard predictions for the timeframe when driverless vehicles will become mainstream—three years, five years, a decade or even longer.

Hod Lipson, a professor of engineering and data science at Columbia University in New York, recently gave a presentation during a Guild 21* podcast about autonomous vehicles. Guild 21 podcasts are sponsored monthly by Verifacts Automotive and attended by repairers, insurers and OEMs.


During Lipson’s presentation, he shared insight about why driverless cars are suddenly taking off and the future implications for those involved in the body shop industry.


HodLipson June17 robot

Hod Lipson, a professor of engineering and data science at Columbia University, holding a robot.


“If you are in the car repair business, it’s going to get more complex, more interesting, and more challenging,” said Lipson. “It’s not going to be something easy to do. More skills are going to be required for these cars.”


According to Lipson, the main challenge for driverless vehicles coming to market hasn’t been the ability for them to drive on the highway, in the dark or even parallel park. Lipson said the biggest hurdle has been to negotiate obstacles on the road and understand what they are seeing.


Just five years ago, the technology used in driverless vehicles didn’t allow the ability to reliably tell the difference between a pothole and an oil spill, or a child and a fire hydrant. Now, with the development of what is called “deep learning,” driverless cars can understand what is going on around them. This has led to a variety of companies and car manufacturers developing prototypes of future vehicles.

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