TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan -- Automakers are finding the pursuit of fully autonomous Level 5 self-driving vehicles to be more expensive and technically complex than expected, Farid Khairallah, portfolio director of safety domain control units for ZF, said Tuesday at the 2019 CAR Management Briefing Seminars.
Speaking of the industry's road ahead, Khairallah told an audience, "The perception in the industry was, a couple of years ago, that it is paved with gold. But now the industry is ... looking at it from a more sober, practical point of view. It's not that easy to go there.
"The whole industry is rethinking their strategies and what they want to do with this," Khairallah said.
Level 5 vehicles are fully autonomous with no pedals or steering wheel.
He said Level 2 self-driving technology, in which the vehicle can steer and stop itself but requires a driver to be seated behind the steering wheel, is more achievable for most automakers.
For a Level 5 vehicle to be 100 percent safe 100 percent of the time, it will need 1 million times more computer processing power than today's vehicles, to be able to recognize and react to every traffic situation. Installing that much computer capability could make a vehicle prohibitively expensive and technically unwieldy. Khairallah said the associated electronics would need their own cooling systems, for example.
"The challenge is how do you validate and assimilate the system when you have 11 cameras and eight radars and five lidars?" he asked the audience. "How do you collect and manage that data?"
Even getting to Level 2 has incurred high development costs and is forcing competing automakers to partner, he said.
"A lot of players can't do it alone," he said. "Homologation is very expensive. Collecting and storing data is very expensive. They are joining forces to share the investment to launch these technologies."