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HSV ponders how to face autonomous driving

Self control: HSV car owners buy into the excitement of the high-performance package – a proposition that might suffer if autonomous driving systems become mandatory for all vehicles on all roads as some traffic authorities are urging.

Keeping excitement in autonomous cars would be a challenge, says HSV

1 Feb 2017

PERFORMANCE vehicle manufacturers such as Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) are wrestling with the challenge of how to maintain driving excitement in their products if autonomous driving controls become prevalent or even compulsory.

HSV managing director Tim Jackson told GoAuto that the issue was one that would increasingly exercise minds at his company which had a vested interest in driver involvement in their cars.

He said performance vehicle companies might have to provide customer track days or even invest in driving centres on private property to allow car fans to switch off automatic driving systems and enjoy the driving experience like generations of previous motorists.

Mr Jackson said it remained to be seen how autonomous driving systems would be applied by governments, including whether they would be voluntary, restricted to some roads such as highways or made mandatory on all public roads.

“It certainly is something we will have to think about as it gets closer,” he said.

Mr Jackson said HSV’s business was to sell exciting cars that customers love to drive, and the challenge would be to maintain that excitement.

Governments around the world are embracing autonomous vehicle testing by car manufacturers and tech companies with a view to introducing such systems to cut the road toll.

In the United States, roads authorities say such systems could cut road fatalities by as many as 30,000 a year.

However, many performance vehicle companies are concerned that compulsory application of autonomous driving controls could take the shine off their products, rendering high-performance engines and sharp handling irrelevant in an era of robotic controls.

Mr Jackson said it might make sense to require drivers to use autonomous driving systems on highways, but then allow them to drive the car themselves in other environments, such as country roads, if they wished.

Some safety experts say cars with the autonomous driving control switched to manual mode would still benefit from a range of modern safety features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist, as well as – potentially – vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, while still allowing the driver to take control of the steering, throttle and brakes.

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