Continental is a company you’ve probably heard of before. Although they don’t make actual cars, they make all manner of vehicle components, and are one of the world’s bigger automotive supply companies. Wanting to keep this position in the market, Continental has been working on autonomous driving technology so as to be prepared for mass implementation. A certain amount of this research can be done in a lab, but these systems need to be exposed to the chaos of the real world after a certain stage of development. Nevada has approved autonomous vehicle licensing in the state, but it’s not as simple as waiting in line at the DMV.
The Nevada DMV has an Autonomous Review Committee which has to check an applicant’s safety plans, employee training, system functions and accident reporting mechanisms before a license can be given. Continental has become the first automotive supplier to receive such approval, and at a demonstration for the review committee, Continental CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart explained the company’s motivation for developing this technology. He said, “As a company, Continental’s strategy is clearly focused on making this type of future technology a reality. It’s clear to us that automated driving will be a key element in the mobility of the future. As a system supplier, we are perfectly positioned to develop and launch series production of solutions for partially automated systems for our customers by 2016. We will be able to develop the first applications for highly and ultimately fully automated driving, even at higher speeds and in more complex driving situations, ready for production by 2020 or 2025.”
Quite a few different companies, like Google and Volvo, are developing autonomous systems, but with no clear industry leader at the moment, securing licensing like this is a major milestone for Continental. The technology, and even legislation connected to autonomous cars is still quite a long way off, but it will be companies that get an early start on research and development that stand to gain the most.