'I've given up': Apple founder abandons hope in autonomous cars
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For as long as the automobile has existed, society has dreamt of self-driving and flying forms of car.
While the latter has remained a fable (save for the high volume of 'start up' firms with concepts that inexplicably never make it to production), the former has been a buzzword in the industry for a number of years. For most, fully autonomous cars have been a case of 'when', not 'if'.
However, the technology has always had its doubters. Uber's fatal pedestrian crash last year cast doubt onto the tech's capabilities, and subsequent studies like JD Power's August Mobility Confidence Index shows that public moods around the technology are mixed at best.
Photos / Matthew Hansen
Simplified autonomous tech is already in plenty of mainstream cars of course, with cars like the entry level Toyota Corolla being among those sporting Level 2 autonomy in the form of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. But it's Level 5 autonomy that those in the industry have been labouring over. Although, at least one of the tech world's most high profile names is sceptical of its future.
As reported by Autonews, Steve Wozniak — co-founder of Apple alongside Steve Jobs — has said that he's given up on the idea of Level 5 autonomy. The 69-year-old went as far as saying that the industry has “misled the public” on the potential of the technology.
"I stepped way back [on] this idea of Level 5. I've really given up. I don't even know if that will happen in my lifetime," he said, speaking at the recent Las Vegas JD Power Auto Revolution conference.
"What we've done is we've misled the public into thinking this car is going to be like a human brain to be able to really figure out new things and say, 'Here's something I hadn't seen before, but I know what's going on here, and here's how I should handle it'. A human can do that."
Wozniak did admit that he had a positive recent experience in a self-driving BMW ride-share, saying that it “did a nice job” and that he and his wife “felt safe and comfortable”. But, it didn't stop him from continuing to stress the distance between where cars are currently and where Level 5 sits.
He added that "if we were to modify roads and have certain sections that are well mapped and kept clean of refuse, and nothing unusual happens and there's no road work", then the technology has more potential to succeed. But, that's naturally a lot of 'ifs'.
Wozniak's views are a stark contrast to those of the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Tesla.
CEO of the latter, Elon Musk, stated in June that Level 5 autonomy will be ready by next year — to the point that owners who have all the autonomy options ticked on their Teslas will be able to generate revenue with their cars by using them as 'robo taxis' when they aren't in use as personal vehicles.