In this month's analysis advice, we take a look at how autonomous driving aims to change the automotive world - but will not succeed
March 2014 Monthly Analysis: Autonomous driving PHOTO: sgCarMart.com

Autonomous technologies in cars are developing at a blistering pace. Like many other technologies out there, the basic ability of humans as drivers are slowly, but surely taken over by wired chips and computer programming.

Not too long ago, we were still watching these 'fantasies' coming true in science fiction. But we soon saw cars being able to self-park. As amazing as it seemed (although the novelty has partially died down now), these machines were able to steer themselves into the tightest of parking lots.

Then, Volvo brought it to a step beyond by demonstrating a fully autonomous parking system - one that drops off the driver to find a lot by itself, and returns to pick him up at a dedicated spot with the touch of a button. Sounds like valet companies are going bust soon.

As you would have expected, the 'drama' doesn't end there. The Swedish marque showcased a car that was able to drive in a convoy by itself, and claimed to be on track to launch the world's first large scale autonomous driving pilot test.

German automotive giants BMW and Mercedes-Benz, too, wanted a piece of the limelight. While Merc is working on a self-chauffeured S-Class, Bimmer took in a more fun factor approach by drifting the M235i around the track - without a driver giving his steering inputs.

We may be sceptical, but we reckon having one of these on our roads is a dream coming true too soon. 

Let's face it. There are countless different scenarios that can happen on the road, far too many for anyone to derive and program the self-drive system to response properly. Imagine a runaway car, a drunkard at the wheel or even a falling tree branch.

There are many other factors that can hinder the progress of autonomous cars. How ironic it seems, when humans themselves may be the biggest form of resistance.

For instance, even if we are convinced that the car is smart enough to handle all kinds of situations, how confident are we to put our children in a car that drives them to school? The safety aspect, no doubt, is one of the greatest challenges.

Even when the smartest brains are involved, there are many others with the capability to hack into the system and cause some form of chaos. Surely, the world doesn't need another avenue for terrorism.

Mistake not - these are not signs of resistance to change. The world is just too big a place to implement a system that allows cars to talk to each other on the road and ensure that they operate seamlessly.

Then, there are perplexing issues on insurance and legislation. The former, put simply, boils down to who will bear the responsibility in the event of an accident. Furthermore, legislation in many countries states that it is compulsory for the driver to be in control of the car at any given point of time. And we reckon amending the rules will be a hard and strenuous task.

It will take at least a decade or two to go through the red tapes. Maybe even more.