Here’s a quiz. The CEO of an automaker said the following about the advent of self-driving technology:
We have full-scale autonomy in development right now. But how we apply this technology will be a little unique. We believe driving pleasure should never die. And we’re selling our products to a core customer who loves driving.
We’ll always take a human-centric approach. The driver will have control and we’ll try to improve peace of mind. If anything happens to the driver, the system will override immediately to bring the car to a safe place.
Which car company does this enlightened executive lead?
Alfa Romeo Maserati
Aston Martin Mazda
Make no mistake, with hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on autonomous vehicle technology – the five top carmakers plowed $46 billion into R&D in 2015 alone – we will be seeing an explosion of vehicles on the road completely controlled by computer algorithms within a generation or two. Cars will truly become automobiles.
But the concern expressed by many NMA members is that those of us who like the freedom of driving at satisfying speeds while navigating whatever challenges the roadways present will be relegated to spinning around the tracks of designated car parks while machines rule the roads.
That is a depressing view of the future, which makes the vision of at least one car manufacturer refreshing. Which brand? Here’s another quote with the answer:
Mazda’s vision of autonomous driving is not bringing you from A to B while you are reading. That’s not Mazda’s way.
We hope that Mazda’s North American chief executive Masahiro More is able to stick to that philosophy and that other automakers realize the wisdom of satisfying the significant segment of motorists who enjoy driving.