Between Silicon Valley’s disruption-happy tech monstrous and Detroit’s suddenly entirely on board automakers, it’s easy to think of America as the center of the self-driving universe. And so it seems a little bit downwards that Audi has decided to release the world’s most capable semiautonomous driving feature in … Europe.
When the 2019 A8 sedan affects marketer heaps afterwards this year, Europeans will have access to Traffic Jam Pilot, which will take control of the car on the roadway at accelerations below 37 mph; no need for the constant human supervision required by current systems like Tesla’s Autopilot.
On this back of das pond, nonetheless, as CNET reports, too many questions remain about statutes that change from one territory to the next, insurance requirements, and things like path paths and road signeds that look different in different regions. When the A8 goes on sale here, it won’t come with Traffic Jam Pilot. Audi’s bosses don’t require the drama, so Americans don’t get the freedom.
Audi’s cutting the US out of the self-driving party underlines how much fus the private and public sectors are having wrapping their leaders around a technology that could be a boon for security, accessibility, and profit margins, but that upends much of the agreed framework that has derived to govern autoes driven by good old fallible humen. Audi’s more capable system–which introduces more trust in personal computers than anything before it–threatens to turn today’s headaches into tomorrow’s scream-inducing migraines.