Patton said in a recent interview that high-tech suppliers like Denso see “lane-keeping” technology as a next step for some automotive brands. A lot of cars already offer Lane Departure Warning. As the name suggests, it notifies the driver if they are straying out of their lane in what looks like an inattentive way. Lane-keeping actually directs the car back where it belongs.
“If you ask me what’s available tomorrow, the next thing is lane-keeping. And when I say tomorrow, I mean literally tomorrow. In the next year or so you’re going to start seeing a lot of those kinds of technologies,” he said.
Patton recalled driving through a thunderstorm. He decided to keep driving, even though visibility was terrible. In his opinion, when his car got to a railroad crossing in the poor visibility, a truly autonomous car might have stopped, and refused to cross the tracks.
Despite automakers’ (assumed) aim for a truly autonomous car, new and un-tested scenarios will likely test its abilities. In that case, the “rules of dis-engagment” – when and how the car transitions control back to the driver, will be key. I doubt cars will omit steering wheels for quite some time, even if/when they become autonomous. Both for reasons of safety and fun.