8 months ago
It’s a Sunday drive. A car enthusiast is comfortably sitting in his Porsche on the way home from an early tee time. But in the near future, the “driver” is sipping a coffee, reading the Wall Street Journal, and hardly even noticing that no one’s at the wheel.
Autonomous cars are quickly becoming a reality, and many car companies are embracing this future. According to Bloomberg, some automakers, like Mazda and Porsche, haven’t been so quick to the chase.
That’s because those manufacturers have built their auto empires on the concept of the sports car as more than a status symbol, as an extension of thrill of driving. The mystique involves feeling the power of acceleration, the experience of shifting gears—not having robots doing it for you.
The North American CEO for Mazda, Masahiro Moro, told Bloomberg that “We have full-scale autonomy in development right now … [but] we’ll always take a human-centric approach. The driver will have control and we’ll try to improve peace of mind.”
Porsche’s North American CEO, Klaus Zellmer, on the other hand, said something similar, noting that there will be an “autonomous drive” mode worked into its car’s functionality (he sees this as an extension of cruise control, which is sort of the 1.0 version of autonomous driving), but there will always be a manual-driving mode. Porsche owners are as much about the driving experience as they are emerging technologies.
The question is whether the pace of technology can outrace even those high end sports cars.
Watch Tesla’s autopilot system getting a test-drive from a stunned driver below.