In two separate announcements earlier this week, the vehicle manufacturing giants Ford and Audi have outlined the next steps in their plans to develop vehicles with autonomous capabilities.
Ford has unveiled plans to mass-produce a fully autonomous car, devoid of a steering wheel, by 2021.
Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, said: “The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.
“We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people – not just those who can afford luxury vehicles.”
In a separate announcement on the same day (16 August), Audi confirmed it is to introduce technology that will allow its vehicles to communicate with traffic lights. (BBC News)
The technology will tell drivers when lights are due to turn green and when they will not be able to pass a set of lights before they turn red.
The BBC report says that in time traffic signals could advise vehicles to keep to a certain speed in order to match the flow of traffic lights.
Audi says that while over the long term the technology will reduce collisions and congestion, at present it is “designed not as a safety feature, but a comfort and convenience feature".
Audi plans to start rolling out the technology in a number of US cities later this year.
In other ‘self-driving’ news, a Tesla Model X is being credited with having helped save an American man’s life when the vehicle’s autopilot function got him to a hospital after he suffered a pulmonary embolism. (The Telegraph)
Thinking that it would be quicker than pulling over to call an ambulance, the driver set the "autopilot" autonomous driving function to drive him to the closest hospital.