The 2019 Reality Check: Autonomous Driving

By Jenn Schlegel

We are just back from Lerum, Sweden and, no, we didn’t see any moose. (You’ll hear more about the Swedish trip later.) But seriously, you are probably wondering why the moose? Well actually, a moose could be a hard-to-identify obstacle for self-driving vehicles or, in this context, truck convoys* – so, yes, our giant yet sage friend can be a safety hazard.

And speaking of safety, it is still one of the mission-critical elements on the agenda when we are talking about autonomous driving. Safety of the passengers inside and safety of the entire ecosystem and infrastructure outside the vehicles, including pedestrians, bicyclists, other drivers and passengers, other autonomous vehicles, buildings, public infrastructure, and… yes, even a moose*.

But what else needs to happen before we are all ordering self-driving cars to pick us up? At the 2018 Simcenter Conference Europe held in Prague last December, we had an extraordinary opportunity to interview two industry insiders in the field of autonomous driving: Joe Barkai, AI pioneer, author and Chairman SAE Connected Cars, and Jan van den Oetelaar, CEO TASS International, a Siemens Business — the company behind Simcenter Prescan

I have to admit, it was fascinating to hear about the progress we have made. Technically today, we do have self-driving vehicles, but it was a bit of a revolution to think about all the things outside the technology that we haven’t seriously taken on board. But don’t just let me ramble on about the challenges that lie ahead. Werner Custers whipped up another one of his excellent little movies…

So 2019 looks to be the year of the reality check. Yes, we have the technology to make autonomous vehicles work and yes we have the collective esprit, to borrow from the French, to go down the social-economic path of self-driving vehicles.

What we don’t have is all the nitty-gritty technical details, voices in our heads, and bigger social and infrastructural questions ironed out. So roll up your sleeves everyone, according to these industry experts (and others), we still have a ways to go before we are ordering a self-driving car to come and pick us up.


*If you didn’t catch reference in the movie (around 2:20), Joe and I were chatting a bit about the innovative Vera autonomous truck project from Volvo Trucks and wondering what and how do you program an autonomous vehicle or convoy to react to a big animal, like a moose, on a remote road late at night. How do you solve this? It is an honest and rather though-provoking point, isn’t it?

Interested in hearing more about Siemens solutions for autonomous driving? Check out Julie’s blog and the links for the

on-demand webinar:

Moose image courtesy of Getty Images.

Vera image courtesy of Volvo Trucks.

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at