Like all technological progress, its impact in the media is inversely proportional to his real presence in the market. The autonomous control, which we will discuss a lot next week in the World of the automobile (4-14 October), is one of those. A tangible progress, but that, before irrigation really the whole vehicle fleet, will take tens of years.

As we can remember, for example, of the beginnings of the hybrid car (1997), reached maturity today only, or of the electric car (1999), still very rare to temper the enthusiasm of some. Because, like all progress, the autonomous control makes use of expensive systems that cannot be implemented on these vehicles are state of the art, designed for it.

the scale of the French market, it would be necessary, from the reading of these lines, to wait fifteen years for the automobile fleet is renewed significantly. And yet, in the next few years, the systems of driving assistance will grow as the high range, able to withstand the additional cost. This does not prevent the manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and even some of the actors of the new economy such as Google, to explore these pathways promising… of dividends improved.

This does not happen smoothly, as pointed out in the fatal accident involving an autonomous car to Uber during a test in the spring. He had aroused an emotion world, leading the company to better manage its trials, but the technology promises a leap forward in terms of safety, according to experts.

1 million lives saved per year

The autonomous car remains a priority for the builders, as evidenced by several prototypes being announced next week at the World auto in Paris, notably with PSA, with the Peugeot e-Legend-Concept, that revisits the style of the famous 504 Coupe, and Renault, with a concept of robot-to-vehicle top of the range.

” The autonomous car will save one million lives per year “, said in June the CEO of Renault, Carlos Ghosn.

This vision is not utopian.

” More than 90 % of accidents are related to human error. Therefore, if one automates the driving functions, we can expect to divide their number by ten, ” says Guillaume Devauchelle, director of innovation of the oem French Valeo.

road traffic accidents cause more than 1.2 million deaths per year worldwide and are the leading cause of death of young people aged 15 to 29, according to the world health Organization (WHO). But, be careful, as we said above, the full automation of the driving is still a distant horizon.

Progress step

PSA satisfied with the green light given to the experimentation of the autonomous car.

But, in the meantime, the systems of partial automation or advanced systems of driving assistance, who have already exploited the many sensors installed on the vehicles, “will drastically reduce the number of accidents,” predicts Mr. Devauchelle.

He cites as an example the cameras from the front, first reserved for high-end products, but going to become the norm in Europe. Associated with the emergency braking, they protect pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, from inattention of the driver. These users, referred to as “vulnerable” represent almost a victim of the road on two, according to the WHO.

sensors, ” which are the eyes and ears of the machine “, will “take a lot fewer bad decisions than the man, because they do not fall asleep…” continues Mr Devauchelle.

Insurers are in danger ?

The BMW group announced in September that it had developed with the reinsurer Swiss Re, an algorithm to take account of the systems of driving aid to lower insurance premiums. “Our customers will have a double benefit : enhanced safety and a possible reduction in the price of their insurance,” said Thomas Wittig, director of financial services of the German manufacturer. We can doubt, because never before an insurer has reduced its premiums because a car was equipped with ABS or ESP who, nevertheless, have already saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

The autonomous car sees a lot of things, but not for all.

© DR

Francis Nédey, a member of the executive committee of Allianz France, for its part, considers that the diffusion of these devices will cause “a significant decrease” in accidents in the city. “The emergency brake, it is necessarily more efficient that a driver looking at his mobile phone,” explains the expert. Except that it should not look at their smartphone and not even use it at all while rolling.

According to him, their impact will also be very positive on the motorways and national roads clearly marked. In other words the routes are well maintained with flaggers performing. Thus, the adaptive cruise control is already in place ” maintains the car in its lane and the driver of the distance to the vehicle in front “, to ” tackle one of the most common causes of accidents on a highway that is falling asleep “. But apart from these routes the most modern, that are already attracting the best scores of road safety, there is still no salvation on the secondary network.

Security of modern roads

Mr. Nédey points out that the technological progress, among multiple other factors such as public policy, have always helped to improve road safety. He cites the seat belt, the airbags, the markers for the electronic trajectory (ESP), antilock braking (ABS) and improving the structure of the car through the crash tests.

France is increased from 16 000 killed on the roads in 1970 to 3,500 in the last year, while the number of kilometres travelled has exploded. But, alas, without lifting a finger on a real improvement of the road network and better management taught in the driving school vehicles. In referring to the machine of the duties of man, are made to pay the motorist who may be cars that are highly technological.

Driver improved or replaced ?

small cars struggling to integrate the expensive autonomous control, but the rental will spread.

© Smart

The equipment manufacturers, with the manufacturers, there are a strategic advantage. While the incentive to change the car remained suspended yesterday to notions of power or style, it will pass now to a technological content more obvious to understand for the general public. In the passage, marks are good arguments to push the sales of new and… increase their margins with vehicles to the rich content.

Guillaume Crunelle, head of automotive at Deloitte, sees the functions of autonomous control a ” disruptive innovation “. According to him, the improvement in security has been for a long time to ” make it more reliable controls of the vehicle so that a human decision has a positive effect. Today, we pass from the driver improved the driver replaced. “

At Valeo, it is estimated that, even if it is not completely replaced, the motorist behaves better when it is helped by automated systems. “When you are in a course of conduct strongly assisted, you are more serene, more relaxed, and you have less desire to do dangerous manoeuvres, “says Devauchelle,” these devices will change our behaviour “. And eliminate more completely the “drivers” that there will be at least one advantage. He may, one day, to go to dinner without withholding or anguish to blow into the balloon and return the cops to the real tasks that lie ahead.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.