Driving An Autonomous Vehicle Through The Streets Of London

Bill Gates recently drove through the streets of London in an autonomous vehicle and got a front row view of where driving is heading. He describes the scenario in a recent blog post.

That day is coming sooner rather than later. We’ve made tremendous progress on autonomous vehicles, or AVs, in recent years, and I believe we’ll reach a tipping point within the next decade.

Bill Gates

Much as he did when he wrote about artificial intelligence, he believes autonomous vehicles will change transportation as dramatically as the PC changed office work. He states in his blog that right now, we’re close to the tipping point – between levels 2 and 3 of the Society of American Engineers classification system – when cars allow the driver to take their hands off the wheel and let the system drive in certain circumstances. Level 3 use was recently improved in the United States under certain conditions. Advances in sensors and other technologies have accelerated the path – as is the case in practically any scenario we consider. As I recently posted, data is central to these scenarios.

This video captures ride Bill Gates took in downtown London. He was a passenger in a vehicle made by the British company Wayve, which is building embodied AI software that gives vehicles the intelligence to drive anywhere. Mr. Gates describes the common scenario of AVs navigating on streets that have been loaded into their system. A Wayve vehicle on the other hand operates more like a person. It can drive anywhere a human can drive. As explained in his post, our accumulated knowledge from driving experiences allows us to effectively drive. Using deep learning, Wayve is doing the same thing. As for timing, Gates had this to say:

For one thing, passenger cars will likely be one of the last vehicle types to see widespread autonomous adoption. Long-haul trucking will probably be the first sector, followed by deliveries. When you finally do step into an AV, it will likely be a taxi or a rental car. (Rental car companies lose a lot of money every year to driver-caused accidents, so they’re eager to transition to an AV fleet that is – at least in theory – less accident-prone.)

Bill Gates

The post describes the transformative impact of moving to autonomy. This impact was described in detail in an interview I conducted with Chunka Mui, an expert that has spent considerable time analyzing the autonomous vehicle scenario. The video below captures the driving experience.

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