With the continued development of self-driving systems and artificial intelligence, fully autonomous vehicles are slowly becoming a reality across the automotive industry. While many believe that Level 5 AV technology is the end-all-be-all in the quest to self-driving vehicles, one former General Motors R&D Chief claims that this isn’t necessary.
According to a report from Automotive News, Larry Burns – who led R&D and planning at GM from 1998 to 2009 – doesn’t believe that Level 5 AV technology will happen, instead referring to Level 4 as the end goal of AV vehicles.
For reference, Level 5 indicates that the vehicle performs all driving tasks, and doesn’t require any human interaction or even controls. In contrast, Level 4 allows the driver to override as needed.
“I don’t think Level 5 is ever going to happen,” Former General Motors R&D Chief Larry Burns was quoted as stating. “That should never have been the goal. Look at the aerospace industry. There are times when an aircraft shouldn’t fly and times when a car shouldn’t drive. Level 4 is what the goal is.”
Burns points to developments in AI as the solution to reaching the automotive industry’s autonomous driving objectives.
“The whole future of the industry is about design innovation,” Burns continued. “Because innovation is at the heart of competitive advantage in the industry. When you look at design innovation, you want to focus it on the total experience of the people you are trying to innovate for. AI can give engineers a lot more insight than what companies can get from written surveys. I think you get insight from observing. AI can help everyone become better designers and better innovators.”
It’s worth noting that GM Authority recently reported that The General will merge Ultra Cruise technology with Super Cruise, the Detroit-based automaker’s semi-autonomous driver assistance system. This comes as General Motors has faced increased pushback regarding its development of the technology through Cruise AV units.