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Audi: fully autonomous cars still at least a decade away

While Elon Musk is having to curb Tesla owners from being overly exuberant with their autopilot functionality, Audi thinks we’re still a decade away from fully autonomous cars.

In a recent interview with Car and Driver, Audi USA president Scott Keogh expressed the belief that we won’t see a fully autonomous car on the market for at least 10 years. That appears to fly in the face of Musk’s assertion that an autonomous car will drive across the US in the next two to three years and Nissan’s plans to launch an autonomous car by 2020.

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But, as Keogh explains, it largely comes down to what we mean by an autonomous car.

“It’s a definition problem. If the definition is, I leave my home, I press a button and that car will take me to wherever I want to go, no hands on the wheel, completely autonomously, then it’s not going to happen for a long time. From my point of view, ten-plus years,” Keogh said.

According to the Audi executive, what we’ll see in the run up to that day is increasing levels autonomy, with cars being able to use their autonomous functions in less and less restricted settings.

Right now, he says, autnomous motoring is reflected with “what you see with Audi piloted driving, adaptive cruise control that gets better and better with every generation. You see that in the marketplace now. Then we’re launching traffic-jam assist with the Q7 and A4 which works up to 37 mph and is handling autonomous driving, but every 15 seconds you need to grab the wheel to prove you’re still awake. If the road isn’t lined, if the sensors aren’t reading, then you’re going to have to take control.”

So if you’re the kind of person who likes to get stuff done on their morning commute, it’s probably best to move to the kind of city that’ll pioneer those autonomous driving environments. On the other hand, if you get car-sick unless you’re behind the wheel then it’s probably best that you move to a rural backwater.

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