Mazda's Love-Hate Relationship With Autonomous Cars
In a move that would perhaps risk it all for Mazda, the Japanese car maker recently revealed that, their future product plans had nothing; that would encourage drivers to take their hands off the wheel. Although it did reveal details about a certain new automated-drive technology called Mazda Co-Pilot, which will undergo testing from 2020 and become standard in 2025.
Mr. Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Senior Managing Executive Officer states that, Mazda won’t be making a car that would drive one to their required destination but instead with their Co-Pilot program, Mazda’s system will only take over when the driver has made an error or suffered a serious health issue. With this he also revealed that, in the Co-Pilot concept, the driver must “always” grab the steering wheel. “Always. No release.”
When drivers are suddenly ill, they often put their foot on the accelerator and have a big accident. In that case our system will operate the car to avoid the accident and will go to a safe location. It’s autonomous technology, although we are also adding [human] sensors so we can instantly judge driver-health. That is our concept: we co-pilot.
Fujiwara-san also added that, there are no immediate plans to extend autonomous driving beyond this point, even though the company could: “Of course we could do normal autonomous driving technology, but we don’t want to offer that to our customers. The car should always be operated by the driver.”