CES Proves Carmakers Still Confused About Autonomous

LAS VEGAS—At the Consumer Electronics Show last week, one thing became clear about car companies and autonomous driving: None of them know if they’re on the right road.

Take Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler. It is viewed by autonomous car software practitioners as one of the few car companies with a legitimate in-house autonomous program. Yet on Friday at CES, Mercedes announced that it would also partner with Nvidia, which makes graphical processors, to develop an “AI car.”

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The problem is those same cars generally aren’t able to handle streets they haven’t driven on before, or they’re stumped by the endless array of “edge” cases—unforeseen complications that cars encounter on rare occasions but must be solved before humans can take their eyes off the road. Verifying that an autonomous system can do all those things is, in and of itself, a herculean task.


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These partnerships with companies like Nvidia are part of a “race to capture the imagination” of the public.