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Autonomy 2020 – the race to self-driving cars

Self Driving Cars

Self-driving cars – they’ve been at the forefront of future technology trends for years and if this year’s Mobile World Congress is anything to go by, we’re very close to this becoming a reality. The GSM association has predicted the first batch of autonomous connected cars will be available in Europe by 2018 due to the deployment of 5G. Meanwhile, Terrafugia is developing a partially autonomous self-flying car which is set to be ready for testing by 2018 and on the market by 2025.

Although it’s impossible to know for certain exactly when or even if these vehicles will be available, the thought of flying cars in less than ten years is both an exciting and scary one. What is clear though, is manufacturers must consider how they approach research and development to ensure they aren’t usurped by forward thinking competitors.

Flexibility is key

Autonomous vehicles have been in our windscreens for quite some time and as development continues it’s vital the teams responsible are taking an approach which enables them to react to the latest trends and requirements. If a Ford development team was allowed to work on a brief for years without taking into account changes in consumer expectations or technological advances, the resultant product simply wouldn’t be able to compete. After all, given the choice between a car which offers automated parking and congestion navigation and one which has no autonomous features, which is the consumer most likely to choose? The former, time and again.

It’s therefore pivotal that automotive manufacturers are challenging the traditional approach to development projects and taking inspiration from the agile methodology to ensure they maintain the competitive advantage they’ve worked so hard to create.

Constant iterations

Although there are numerous elements which combine to create the agile approach to development, constant iterations are integral to ensure vehicle developments can instantly react to the latest trends. Decision makers are able to communicate and collaborate with developers constantly throughout the process, with the advantage of having a minimum viable product always available for testing. They are able to suggest necessary amendments, following a change in consumer attitude or particularly constructive feedback from a focus group.

This is crucial when delivering partial autonomy as it’s imperative to the adoption of this technology that consumer trust is gained. If it becomes apparent a particular change is needed to strengthen tech that navigates through congestion automatically, this change can be made instantly, rather than having to implement in the next model once a car has gone to market. This is crucial, as the more refined partial technology becomes, the more likely that consumers will be persuaded to embrace it en masse.

Winning the race to self-driving cars

As with any project, the end goal of developing autonomous driving technology is to ensure manufacturers have a competitive advantage. Working with agile software development experts will ensure exactly this. The latest technological progress made in the drive towards autonomy will be taken into account, ensuring manufacturers are disrupting the market, rather than playing catch-up. It is this which makes adopting the agile principle a must for any automotive manufacturers aiming to position themselves as the leaders in the autonomous driving arena.