As automakers and technology companies fight each other to become the first to commercialize a Level 5 autonomous driving system, BMW remains uncertain if such technology will ever be available to consumers, Autocar reports.
Speaking during the recent Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Summit, BMW’s special representative to the UK, Ian Robertson, said that it could be difficult to permit ‘brain-off’ self-driving.
“Imagine a scenario where the car has to decide between hitting one person or the other — to choose whether to cause this death or that death.
“What’s it going to do? Access the diary of one and ascertain they are terminally ill and so should be hit? I don’t think that situation will ever be allowed,” Robertson said.
Like its rivals, BMW is working on autonomous driving systems advanced enough that they require no human input. While such systems are technically possible, it will remain up to regulators as to whether or not Level 5 autonomy will be permitted on public roads.
“If we are working towards a ‘brain off’ scenario, where perhaps we expect travellers to even sit in the back of the car and relax, then that clearly isn’t possible today, despite what some might tell you.
“Then there is the overarching consideration of the regulators that we need to consider. In the UK, the government is encouraging autonomous testing — even if some of its fundamentals go against the Highway Code, the fabric of our laws. They know we are in a race to take leadership and that opening up to testing could have significant benefits,” Robertson said.
“But I believe that in the long term, the regulators will step in and set boundaries about how far we can go. It might be to allow it only on motorways, as they are the most controlled environments.”