Tag Archive: Self driving cars



After years toiling away in secret on its car project, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has for the first time laid out exactly what the company is up to in the automotive market: It’s concentrating on self-driving technology.

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on June 5. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.”

“We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects,” Cook said in his most detailed comments to date on Apple’s plans in the car space. “It’s probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on.”

The prospect of self-driving cars has seen a slew of technology companies push into the auto industry, which is estimated to be worth $6.7 trillion (roughly Rs. 431,29,903 crores) by 2030, according to McKinsey & Co. Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit has signed partnerships with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Lyft Inc. to develop the technology. And carmakers from BMW AG to General Motors Co. have opened sizable Silicon Valley offices and dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire autonomous vehicle startups.

Apple had initially been seeking to build its own car, before recalibrating those ambitions last year to prioritise the underlying technology for autonomous driving, Bloomberg News reported. The iPhone maker had hired more than 1,000 engineers to work on Project Titan, as the car team is known internally, after it started in 2014.

Ballooning costs and headcount led to Apple veteran Bob Mansfield being given the reins of the team in 2016. Cook has never before openly outlined Apple’s plans, though public filings have surfaced in recent months that provided snapshots of Apple’s efforts.

The iPhone maker secured a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles in April to test three self-driving sports-utility vehicles, photos of which emerged several weeks later. A half-dozen vehicles had been surreptitiously testing the autonomous technology on public roads in and around the San Francisco Bay area for at least a year, according to someone familiar with Project Titan. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment on how long the company has been conducting road tests.

 

In December, Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, penned a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealing the company’s interest in automotive technology. It became public when it was published on a federal website. In the letter, Kenner wrote about the company’s excitement surrounding the potential for automated systems in fields like transportation.

“There is a major disruption looming there,” Cook said on Bloomberg Television, citing self-driving technology, electric vehicles and ride-hailing. “You’ve got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame.”

Cook was also bullish about the prospects for electric vehicles, a market which last week helped Tesla Inc. become the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker by market capitalisation, even as it ranks well outside the top 10 by unit sales.

“It’s a marvelous experience not to stop at the filling station or the gas station,” Cook said.

Apple invested $1 billion last year in Didi Chuxing, the biggest Chinese ride-hailing service. The announcement came soon after Mansfield took over Project Titan and set about cutting hundreds of engineers. Whereas Apple had initially been building its own car, Mansfield scrapped those plans in favor of building an autonomous driving system. The company will make a decision on whether to proceed with the push later this year, the people said at the time.

In the interview on Bloomberg Television, Cook was hesitant to disclose whether Apple will ultimately manufacture its own car. “We’ll see where it takes us,” Cook said. “We’re not really saying from a product point of view what we will do.”

 

 

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Germany plans new legislation to require manufacturers of cars equipped with an autopilot function to install a black box to help determine responsibility in the event of an accident, transport ministry sources told Reuters on Monday.

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The fatal crash of a Tesla Motors Inc Model S car in its Autopilot mode has increased the pressure on industry executives and regulators to ensure that automated driving technology can be deployed safely.

Under the proposal from Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, drivers will not have to pay attention to traffic or concentrate on steering, but must remain seated at the wheel so they can intervene in the event of an emergency.

Manufacturers will also be required to install a black box that records when the autopilot system was active, when the driver drove and when the system requested that the driver take over, according to the proposals.

The draft is due to be sent to other ministries for approval this summer, a transport ministry spokesman said.

Germany is home to some of the world’s largest car companies including Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW and the government wants the industry to become a global player in the market for self-driving vehicles.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said in April the industry should draw up a wish list for Berlin to help develop self-driving vehicles, ideally with a timetable.

Companies around the globe are working on prototypes for self-driving vehicles, but such cars are not expected to be available for the mass market before 2020.

 

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Internet-connected and driverless cars will be targets for hackers including terrorists and hostile nations so the automotive industry must ensure vehicles have built-in cyber-security protection, a top US Justice Department official said.

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“There is no Internet-connected system where you can build a wall that’s high enough or deep enough to keep a dedicated nation-state adversary or a sophisticated criminal group out of the system,” John Carlin, US assistant attorney general for national security, said Tuesday at an auto industry conference in Detroit.

The burgeoning market for cars connected to the Internet is expected to be valued at about $42 billion (roughly Rs. 2,78,715 crores) by 2025, with more than 220 million vehicles on the roads.
US agencies and regulators are trying to make the auto industry more aware of cyber threats and quicker in acting to plug security gaps, Carlin said, and agencies can share information about threats with companies.

“This will be the next battlefront,” Carlin told reporters after his keynote speech at the SAE 2016 World Congress. “Right now what we have is this combination of carrots and sticks, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all protocol that’s been mandated by statute.”

Questions about the auto industry’s responsiveness were raised last year when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles waited 18 months to tell federal safety regulators about a security flaw in radios being installed in more than a million vehicles that security researchers exploited in July, seizing control of a Jeep just to show it could be done. The episode led to the recall of almost 1.5 million vehicles the first auto recall prompted by cyber-security concerns.

Carlin said government agencies and companies across different industries are in the “early days” of dealing with rapid technological change and with laws and regulations on cyber-security that are “very unsettled.” For the most part, the government encourages companies to take steps voluntarily to secure their products and services.

Hackers of all varieties could try to do harm through connected cars, Carlin said.

“If you were able to do something that could affect a large scale of an industry like 100,000 cars you could see that being in the arsenal of a nation-state’s tool kit as a new form of warfare,” he said.

“We’ve seen rogue nation states try to assassinate those that do not share their beliefs,” Carlin said. “If they were able to do it remotely through a car, I don’t see why they consider that a safe zone.”

 
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Amazon.com and Microsoft are in talks to supply cloud computing to digital mapping business Here, owned by a group of German carmakers developing self-driving cars, sources familiar with the matter said.

Amazon is also considering becoming a shareholder in Here, two sources said.

Last year, carmakers BMW, Audi and Mercedes struck a EUR 2.5 billion ($2.85 billion or roughly Rs. 18,928 crores) deal to buy Nokia’s Here maps business.

Intelligent mapping systems supply information to control self-driving cars, which are equipped with street-scanning sensors to measure traffic and road conditions. This location data can in turn be shared with other map users.

“Amazon would take a stake as part of a broader deal to lock them in as a provider of cloud computing services,” one source familiar with the talks said.

“Microsoft is also interested in closer ties to Here,” another source familiar with the talks said.

Microsoft declined to comment. Amazon did not respond to requests to comment.

Audi, the premium brand owned by Volkswagen, Daimler – the parent company of Mercedes-Benz – and BMW declined to comment on talks with potential new partners.

The consortium needs cloud computing providers to manage the mountains of data collected from sensors on thousands of Mercedes, BMW and Audi cars. These digital maps allow cars to avoid traffic jams or hazards such as ice.

“The new owners Audi, Daimler and BMW have said from the start that they are open for new partners to join,” BMW said in a statement. “We have noticed that there is lots of interest not only from potential partners from within the automotive industry, but also from other sectors.”

The consortium has started negotiations with potential new partners, including both rival carmakers and potential technology suppliers.

Having more carmakers on board will spread the cost of investments required to develop the digital mapping business, and could improve the volume of data about traffic information being fed into the map database from vehicles on the road.

Renault and automotive supplier Continental have both expressed interest.

Continental said on Thursday a decision on whether to buy a stake in Here would be made within the next few months.

Ford is also among the companies interested in taking a stake in the Here consortium, a third auto industry source said on Thursday.

Asked whether Ford was in talks with the group about taking a stake in Here, a spokesman for the company said: “We have been and will continue working with many companies and discussing a variety of subjects.” He declined further comment.

Self-driving and connected car services could become a $50 billion (roughly Rs. 3,32,362 crores) market, analysts at Exane BNP Paribas have estimated.

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Google wants Congress to create new federal powers that would let the tech giant receive special, expedited permission to bring to market a self-driving car that has no steering wheel or pedals.

The proposal, laid out in a letter to top federal transportation officials, reveals Google’s solution to a major regulatory roadblock: US law does not permit the mainstream deployment of cars with the design Google has been advancing, which would not allow a person to drive.

The cars may sound futuristic, but Google has dropped increasingly strong hints that its self-driving technology – tested for several years on public roads in California and elsewhere – could be ready for early adopters sooner than the public expects. The tech giant’s push to clear roadblocks in federal law reinforces that confidence.

The process Google advocates would be available to any company that wants to produce a car which can drive itself without human intervention. Traditional automakers are moving in that direction, but not as aggressively as Google.

In a letter sent Friday to US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the head of Google’s self-driving car project, Chris Urmson, sketched out the idea of a federal fast track for the technology which he floated without details at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday.

Under Google’s proposed framework, a company that could show its vehicles passed federal safety standards could receive permission from transportation regulators to sell them. The government could set conditions that limit use based on safety concerns, and would be obligated to review the application in a “tight but realistic” time frame.

The typical process for making new rules takes years.

Granting the new authority would bring “enormous potential safety benefits … quite promptly with appropriate safety conditions and full public input,” according to a summary of the proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

Google’s proposal came in a response to a US Department of Transportation invitation for industry input on ways to speed the technology to public roads, provided it is proven to be safe.

“The department will take input from lots of stakeholders as we develop that plan,” said Gordon Trowbridge, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is overseeing the regulation of self-driving technology within the broader Department of Transportation.

Google spokesman Johnny Luu said Google’s proposal was “the beginning of a process” to create “the right framework that will allow deployment in a safe and timely manner.”

The company tried to create a favorable framework through legislation in California, but nearly four years later is suggesting it may have to continue the technology’s development outside its home state because regulations proposed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles would prohibit a car without a steering wheel and pedals.

Now Google is venturing up Capitol Hill. Company representatives met with lawmakers this week, including Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The committee has been discussing with the Transportation Department the challenges and the authorities needed for a self-driving car, but isn’t currently working on legislation, said Frederick Hill, a Republican spokesman for the committee.

The committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, is open to legislation giving transportation regulators greater authority, as long as the new powers do not compromise safety, Nelson spokesman Bryan Gulley said. Urmson met with the committee’s Democratic staff and indicated legislation was in the works but offered no draft proposal, Gulley said.

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US vehicle safety regulators have said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver under federal law, a major step towards ultimately winning approval for autonomous vehicles on the roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, of its decision in a previously unreported Feb. 4 letter to the company posted on the agency’s website this week.

Google’s self-driving car unit on November 12 submitted a proposed design for a self-driving car that has “no need for a human driver,” the letter to Google from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Chief Counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh said.

“NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants,” NHTSA’s letter said.

“We agree with Google its (self-driving car) will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.”

Major automakers and technology companies such as Google are racing to develop and sell vehicles that can drive themselves at least part of the time.

All participants in the autonomous driving race complain that state and federal safety rules are impeding testing and eventual deployment of such vehicles. California has proposed draft rules requiring steering wheels and a licensed driver in all self-driving cars.

Karl Brauer, senior analyst for the Kelley Blue Book automotive research firm, said there were still significant legal questions surrounding autonomous vehicles.

But if “NHTSA is prepared to name artificial intelligence as a viable alternative to human-controlled vehicles, it could substantially streamline the process of putting autonomous vehicles on the road,” he said.

If the car’s computer is the driver for legal purposes, then it clears the way for Google or automakers to design vehicle systems that communicate directly with the vehicle’s artificial pilot.

In its response to Google, the federal agency offered its most comprehensive map yet of the legal obstacles to putting fully autonomous vehicles on the road. It noted existing regulations requiring some auto safety equipment can not be waived immediately, including requirements for braking systems activated by foot control.

“The next question is whether and how Google could certify that the (self-driving system) meets a standard developed and designed to apply to a vehicle with a human driver,” NHTSA said.

Google is “still evaluating” NHTSA’s lengthy response, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday. Google executives have said they would likely partner with established automakers to build self-driving cars.

Worries about people undermining safety
Google told NHTSA that the real danger is having auto safety features that could tempt humans to try to take control.

Google “expresses concern that providing human occupants of the vehicle with mechanisms to control things like steering, acceleration, braking… could be detrimental to safety because the human occupants could attempt to override the (self-driving system’s) decisions,” the NHTSA letter stated.

NHTSA’s Hemmersbaugh said federal regulations requiring equipment like steering wheels and brake pedals would have to be formally rewritten before Google could offer cars without those features.

For example, current federal rules require alerts on dashboards if tire pressure runs low. NHTSA said a test would need to be created that shows the vehicle computer is informed of the problem. NHTSA raised the question of whether humans in the vehicles should also be made aware.

In January, NHTSA said it may waive some vehicle safety rules to allow more driverless cars to operate on US roads as part of a broader effort to speed up development of self-driving vehicles.

NHTSA said then it would write guidelines for self-driving cars within six months. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the administration may seek new legal authority to allow deployment of autonomous vehicles “in large numbers,” when they are deemed safe, the department said.

The process of rewriting federal regulations governing the design, placement and operation of vehicle controls could take months or years. The NHTSA counsel said Google could consider applying for exemptions for certain regulations, providing NHTSA with supporting documents.

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Alphabet Inc said Wednesday its self-driving car project will expand testing to Kirkland, Washington later this month, the third city where it is testing autonomous vehicles.

The company’s Google unit has conducted autonomous vehicle testing for six years in Mountain View, California, where it is based, and it expanded testing to Austin, Texas last summer.

Google said in a statement that one reason for the new site in the northwest United States is to gain experience in “different driving environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions.”

Kirkland has significant seasonal rain that allows for wet weather testing, along with hills that will allow testing of sensors at different angles and elevations.

Google began a few weeks ago driving a single Lexus RX450h SUV around a few square miles in North Kirkland to create a detailed map of the streets.

The company says its self-driving software has already been tested in over 1.4 million miles of autonomous driving.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee praised the testing. “We’re looking forward to seeing the cars on the road and understanding more about how self-driving cars might someday improve safety and provide traffic relief,” he said in the Google statement.

Last month, the US Transportation Department said it may waive some vehicle safety rules to allow more driverless cars to operate on US roads as part of a broader effort to speed up development of self-driving vehicles.

Major automakers, and technology companies led by Google, are racing to develop and sell vehicles that can drive themselves, but they have complained that safety rules are impeding testing and ultimate deployment of such vehicles.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told automakers it is willing to exempt up to 2,500 vehicles industry-wide from some auto safety standards for up to two years in a move that could allow Google to get its self-driving cars on US roads.

Safety regulators will write guidelines for self-driving cars within six months, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said last month.

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Tesla’s swift rise to both create and dominate the luxury all-electric car market has stunned Detroit.

To hold that lead to the next plateau the self-driving, mass-market electric car widely seen as the future of the auto industry founder Elon Musk is rapidly staffing up with the best talent he can find: computer programmers.

Rather than look to Detroit for help to build his cars, Musk’s 12 year old company is focused on Silicon Valley to recruit some 1,600 software engineers for the next stage.

They are to help develop Autopilot, Tesla’s autonomous car IT system, with capabilities like the Summon function announced this week that can allow Tesla owners to call the car from the garage to their side at will, like a pet.

In a sign of his determination to beat Detroit at its own game, last November Musk used Twitter to get his message out.

“We are looking for hardcore software engineers. No prior experience with cars required,” he said, adding “Should mention that I will be interviewing people personally and Autopilot reports directly to me. This is a super high priority.”

Autopilot is crucial if Tesla aims to have a fully self-driving car by 2018, and increase production 10-fold to 500,000 cars a year by 2020.

Ramping up production to that level, supported by Tesla’s own battery plant under construction in Nevada, is crucial to lowering the price of its cars to a more affordable level, perhaps $35,000, for the Tesla Model 3 electric sedan planned for 2017 around a third of today’s price tag.

Such promises have kept financiers and investors still firmly behind Tesla, even though the Palo Alto, California company has continued to lose money while the big carmakers in Detroit rack up profits on the booming US auto market.

Tough competition
If it meets its goals, Tesla could remain a player in the industry. But it is surrounded by likewise eager competitors. All of the large Asian, European and US automakers are ramping up their work on electric, driver-less cars.

Crossing into the field with their substantial resources and tech capabilities are Internet giants like Google, Apple, and Uber.

Also crowding into the race are Tesla-wannabes: startups like Chinese-backed Faraday Future, which unveiled its own Batmobile-looking electric in Las Vegas last week, Karma Automotive, Atieva and NexTex.

All of them appear to agree that the future of the industry is in electric cars that can drive themselves. And they are all battling for the best brainpower Silicon Valley has to offer.

Can Tesla still lead?
Tesla has a march on the competition; the question is whether it can hold on.

Its Model S and new Model X SUV both have Autopilot capabilities which allow hands-off driving in some situations, and it promises incremental expansions of those capabilities.

But rivals loom in the all-electric field that will test Tesla even before autonomous driving gains traction on the roads. Audi’s Q6 e-Tron promises a 500 kilometer (300 mile) range without charging by 2018, 50 percent more than Tesla’s cars currently.

Mercedes-Benz has its GLE hybrid and BMW the X5. Porsche is putting $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,715 crores) into its “Mission E” electric car and Aston Martin has an electric sports car based on its DBX concept targeted for 2019.

“This is going to be very tough for Tesla,” said Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst at Edmunds.com.

“Porsche is an established name. They have a lot of marketing money, they have a lot of credibility, they have a strong dealer network… You can say the same for Audi.”

At the more affordable end, General Motors is rushing to market the Chevrolet Bolt, to arrive next year as a challenger to Tesla’s Model 3. In the same price range, too, there is already BMW’s mini-electric i3.

Karl Brauer, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book, says Tesla “has the cachet, they have the prestige the competition doesn’t have. Tesla is the Apple of the automotive industry.”

Even so, he warned, to hold its lead, Tesla needs to keep an eye on the calendar as well as innovate. The new Model X was around two years late on its original timeline.

But former GM executive Bob Lutz thinks Tesla, as it bleeds money, is a poor bet to win the race for the car of the future.

“Tesla is still doomed,” he said. “Whatever uniqueness they have it’s disappearing… They have to learn how to make money like other car companies.”

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Google’s fleet of 53 driverless cars, currently being tested on roads in California and Texas, have never been at fault in an accident. But in 13 cases, the vehicles came pretty close and the driver had to step in to prevent a crash, according to a new company report on the California tests.

The report stated that on 272 occasions in a 14-month span, drivers took control of autonomous vehicles because the software was failing. In 69 other incidents, the test drivers chose to take control of the autonomous vehicles to ensure that the vehicles operated safely.

The new data shows that autonomous cars are making progress, Google said. But experts cautioned that the company’s report doesn’t provide enough information to definitively say whether the technology is safe.

Google’s test drives have been watched very closely because they have put driverless cars on real roads for the first time. Even minor incidents between human drivers and Google’s cars have garnered media scrutiny because of the huge interest in the technology.

The report, which was required by California rules, is the most detailed to date on how the cars are performing. Google is also testing the technology in Austin, but Texas did not obligate the company to release similar data.

The report shows an overall decline in incidents in which the technology fails since the fall of 2014.

“We’re really excited about these numbers. It seems to be a pretty good sign of progress,” Chris Urmson, who leads Google’s self-driving-car project, said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Experts cautioned that the findings should be taken with a grain of salt.

“It’s not going to be reflective on the quality of the system,” said Alain Kornhauser, chairman of Princeton University’s autonomous-vehicle engineering program. “From an evaluation standpoint, I don’t think there’s anything you can read into it in the end.”

How good the cars’ performance looks can be skewed by the situations they face, Kornhauser said. Favorable road conditions will make a car look much more impressive than tough situations.

“It’s informative, but it shouldn’t be treated as a true measure of the vehicle’s safety,” said Aaron Steinfeld, a Carnegie Mellon professor who researches human-robot interaction.

The most significant improvement in the report is the rate at which the cars detect a system failure and request the test driver to take over – incidents that Google and regulators call “disengagements.” These situations happened once every 785 miles in late 2014 but once every 5,318 miles in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The measure is an indicator of the stability of the overall system. Urmson said he was pleased with the improvement as his engineers have focused on adding new capabilities to the software. He said a focus on stability will come before the technology is released to the public.

While the rate at which test drivers chose to take control of the cars decreased in early 2015, it took an upward turn late in 2015. Google says that’s because the cars were pushed into more difficult circumstances.

“If you only drove on Sunday afternoon, you might get the software to the point where you don’t have any of the disengagements,” Urmson said. “But then [if] you throw it into rush-hour traffic on Monday morning, the driving environment is just that much more challenging.”

He cited recent rain in the San Francisco Bay area and roads with dense exhaust fog as tougher challenges the cars have faced recently.

According to the report, the most common reason test drivers had to take control of the autonomous vehicles was a perception discrepancy – essentially an error in how the car saw the world.

For example, the car might think another vehicle has turned 10 degrees in its lane when it is really proceeding straight down the lane. Or the car might stop because it sees trash on the road, which a human driver wouldn’t stop for.

The second most common reason the report cites for test drivers intervening was what Google calls software discrepancies. These can be very slight differences in how the software is operating the car, such as a measure from a sensor coming at every 11 milliseconds instead of every 10 milliseconds.

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German carmarker BMW is preparing to rethink its products, design and business models for the advent of driverless cars, a board member at the Bavarian company said on Tuesday.

Peter Schwarzenbauer said the competitive advantage for premium carmakers will be rooted in their ability to offer a portfolio of transport options far beyond just selling a car.

The ability to hail an autonomous car instantaneously may lead to a convergence between business models being offered by taxi services, limousine rides and car sharing, Schwarzenbauer, the BMW board member responsible for the Mini brand, told Reuters in an interview at the Frankfurt car show.

How well premium carmakers do will depend partially on how quickly a customer’s desire for transportation can be met.

“If it is going to be within three minutes, then I need a certain volume of cars to make that happen. Whether BMW owns these fleets our outsources the business is an open question,” Schwarzenbauer said.

“New mobility concepts will emerge with autonomous vehicles, which are robot cars. Fleet management will become a much more significant business,” he said.

The onset of smartphones has fundamentally changed customer expectations. Rather than buying and owning a car, customers can use phones to hail a limousine or find a car-sharing vehicle, Ian Robertson, BMW’s board member for marketing and sales said.

“The ability to use a car, and then walk away is a serious business,” Robertson said, adding that it was still a long way to go in regulatory and legal terms to resolve liability questions before ride sharing models will use driverless cars.

Mercedes-Benz also sees business potential in offering on-demand limousine services using driverless cars, Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche has said, in what amounts to a direct challenge to Uber.

The market penetration of vehicles with autonomous features is expected to reach 13 percent by 2025, representing a market of roughly $42 billion, Boston Consulting Group has said.

With that in mind, BMW is also looking at how the inside of the new, driverless car will look.

“At the moment, drivers spend most of their time looking outside a vehicle. With self-driving cars, interior design will play a very different role. The feelgood factor will be paramount,” Schwarzenbauer said.

How exactly interiors will look, and decisions about strategy have not been finalised at board level, but discussions centre around changing consumer habits, he said.

“We are not talking about a completely new strategy, but we are putting greater emphasis on brand management and design,” BMW’s Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said.

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