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商业 - 汽车

汽车厂商担心无人驾驶汽车的接受度

Doron Levin 2013年01月16日

自动驾驶技术正在快速发展,未来几年就有望投入应用。但让一些厂商烦恼的是,公众和监管层似乎还没有为此做好准备。

    目前,少数几家汽车厂商,如奥迪(Audi)、丰田的雷克萨斯(Lexus)和梅赛德斯奔驰(Mercedes-Benz)正在越来越公开地展示自己的自动驾驶技术,它能让车只需要极少的驾驶者指令就能自动行驶。据称这项技术几年内就能投入应用。

    不过,各大厂商担心消费者和监管层可能不会那么痛快地放弃对车的操控权。驾车者正越来越多地用上了防抱死刹车系统、车辆稳定控制系统、自适应巡航控制系统、车道偏离警示系统和其他高科技配置。但各大厂商表示,绝大多数人还没意识到只需要一小步就能迈入近乎全自动驾驶控制系统的时代。

    奥迪美国分公司总裁斯科特•吉奥称:“把所有这些系统放在一起,汽车就基本能帮着司机自动驾驶了。”本周在拉斯维加斯举办的消费电子展(Consumer Electronics Show)上,奥迪展示了一套名为“交通拥堵辅助系统”的原型,它主要用于时速低于60公里(37英里)时的交通状况。

    光学和雷达传感器通过识别道路标志使这辆载有特殊装备的奥迪A6不会偏离车道,并强制车轮按预定方向行驶。当车辆与前车过于接近时,前进传感器就会使其减速,当车距过大时,又会使其加速。用于处理信息的传感器和芯片正飞快地变得日益小巧、便宜,同时性能更为强大。

    奥迪是继谷歌公司(Google)之后的第二家公司,也是首家获准在内华达州公路上测试其自动驾驶系统的汽车公司。而其他大公司,包括通用汽车(General Motors)和福特汽车(Ford Motor)也都在开发自己的自动驾驶系统,不过它们在本次展会上都没有发布任何声明或召开发布会。

    吉奥及奥迪其他高管和来自德国的工程师都拒绝表明“交通拥堵辅助系统”可能将何时用于奥迪车型上——只来了一句“就这十年吧”。他们还迫不及待地指出,尽管技术能减轻走走停停状态中的单调乏味,同时提高安全性,但司机“决不能”完全放弃操控。高管们表示,让大众对当前开发的技术先睹为快,主要是为了让大家先熟悉起来,打消陌生感和戒惧感。

    谷歌正在加州和内华达州的道路上测试它开发的一辆无人驾驶的丰田普锐斯(Prius),以实现完全无人驾驶的目标。与谷歌不同,奥迪绝不苟同那种认为司机今后将毫无作为的看法。

    但奥迪其实离这个目标也就咫尺之遥。在拉斯维加斯的一个停车场车库,奥迪还展示了一辆自动泊车的车。它能根据“司机”的指令,自己找到停车位,并驶回原处。负责奥迪研发的董事沃尔夫冈•杜尔海姆称:“奥迪能提供这项技术和一些公关活动来展示其价值。”但要想让消费者接受它,“关键”在于证明“它能解决客户面临的问题。”

    Technology that will allow cars to operate with minimal input from human drivers is being demonstrated more openly by a few automakers, notably Audi, Toyota's Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. The technology will be available in a few years, they say.

    Automakers worry, however, that consumers and regulators may balk at giving up control. Drivers increasingly use anti-lock brakes, stability control, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings and other high-tech gadgetry. Most don't realize it's a small step to a nearly fully automatic control system, carmakers say.

    "You put all these thing together and already the car is helping to drive itself," says Scott Keogh, president of Audi AG's U.S. subsidiary. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week Audi showed a prototype of "Traffic Jam Assist" for use in traffic traveling below 60 kilometers (37 miles) per hour.

    Optical and radar sensors identify lane markers to keep the specially equipped Audi A6 from drifting out of its lane, nudging the wheel in the direction it must go. Forward sensors slow the car down when it gets too close to a vehicle ahead, or speeds it up when the gap is large. The sensors and the chips that process information are getting smaller, cheaper and more powerful at a dramatic pace.

    Audi is the second company, and first automaker after Google (GOOG), to receive permission to test its systems on Nevada roads. Other major automakers, including General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F), are working on autonomous systems but sidestepped making any announcements or holding briefings at the show.

    Keogh and other Audi executives and engineers from Germany declined to say exactly when "Traffic Jam Assist" might be available in an Audi model -- except to say "this decade." They were quick to point out that while the technology could relieve the monotony and improve safety in stop-and-go driving, the driver "must not" relinquish control entirely. The sneak peek at the technologies is designed, executives said, to familiarize a public that might otherwise find them strange or frightening.

    Unlike Google, which it testing a driverless Toyota Prius it developed for on California and Nevada roads toward a future of driverless cars, Audi rejects the notion that drivers might one day become obsolete.

    Well, almost. Audi also demonstrated a self-parking car at a Las Vegas parking garage that found its own space and returned at the summons of its "driver." "Audi can provide the technology and some public relations to show the value," says Wolfgang Durheimer, Audi board member in charge of research and development. "The key" for consumer acceptance is to show "that it solves a problem consumers have."

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