Frustration is rising over constricting autonomous driving regulations in Europe, where automakers are still waiting for basic levels of the technology to be approved for sale.
Volkswagen Group's Audi brand was the first to develop "eyes-off" conditional Level 3 autonomous functionality with the A8 flagship sedan that launched in late 2018. However, the system, called Traffic Jam Pilot, has yet to be approved for sale by regulators.
Daimler is nearing the release of a Mercedes-Benz S class that should offer Level 3 autonomy as soon as it hits the market in 2020, according to executives. (Automation technology is categorized on the SAE International spectrum ranging from Level 0 to Level 5.)
BMW in 2021 is due to debut its iNEXT electric crossover which is expected to be loaded with advanced self-driving features. That is, if engineers such as Alejandro Vukotich can make some headway with Brussels.
The 2017 Automotive News Europe Eurostar led Audi's autonomous driving program that culminated in the A8's Traffic Jam Pilot before BMW poached him in January to assist with the iNEXT's autonomous driving capabilities.
"Take the example of emergency assist, where the car pulls over to the side of the road should the driver become unresponsive. This is better than doing nothing in such an event, but there is no type approval," Vukotich said.
The only legally safe option for a vehicle in this case is to continue on its trajectory unimpeded regardless of the mayhem that could ensue. Even certain Level 2+ advanced assistance systems that BMW offers in the United States and China, such as hands-off driving at 60 kph, is not allowed in Europe, Vukotich said.
"The legal framework on the requirements for certifying a [Level 3] system for sale in Europe has not been clarified," he told ANE.