Stanford course on the Future of the Automobile

Intelligent vehicles were the main topic of a 1-unit Stanford course from April to June. The course included guest lectures from Volkswagen Research (pdf), Hyundai (pdf), Volvo (pdf) and Bosch (pdf) and addressed technical, legal and some societal aspects of autonomous vehicle technology.

The course was offered by Sven Beiker and Chris Gerdes, both from Stanford’s Center for Automotive Research (CARS). Some of the key insights provided in the class:

  • Carsharing would benefit a lot – autonomous vehicles could be used by carsharing service providers as soon as 2018
  • Completely autonomous vehicles might be available by 2030 (this somewhat contradicts expected use in carsharing by 2018)
  • Over your lifetime you will spend about 1000 days in a car!
  • Autonomous cars and inter-car communication systems should evolve together; however it is difficult to impose new standards
  • The technology is advancing quickly

It is interesting, however, that the economic and business impacts of driverless technology seem to have been mostly absent from the course presentations (with the exception of a few bullet points in the final session). Issues such as how driverless technology might impact the cost of mobility,  what impacts driverless cars would have on the structure of the car industry, and on new business models and services were not addressed.

Nevertheless this has been an excellent course. I highly recommend taking a look at the  syllabus and the many excellent course presentations in PDF format.



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