Good news for Düsseldorf and vicinity. The newspaper Rheinische Post posted an article about a new test track for autonomous driving along motorways and into the city of Düsseldorf. The streets still have to be prepared and enabled, so it will take until 2018 until we will see the first autonomous cars.
Autonomous driving is an ambivalent concept for German car lovers. On the one hand it's a huge opportunity for our car industry and the myriads of component suppliers to remain relevant in the market. On the other hand I know a lot of people who can't imagine handing over control over their vehicle.
Due to this ambivalence, the path to the autonomous car will be one of many small steps. Various driver assistance systems and mechanism have already taken over a number of tasks that used to be the drivers's. Many high end cars are already able to drive autonomously on the motorway. The law forces the driver to always have their hands on the steering wheel.
If you are a supplier to the automotive industry, autonomous driving has probably been a key part of your thinking for a while. Use the opportunity of the new test track to re-think how you will do business with and be a crucial strategic supplier for the large automotive companies. What will they need from you in the future? Which driver assistance systems could you build to take the next step on the path to autonomous driving? What is your USP going to be in the future? The German car industry has to play catch up. Google Cars, now called Waymo cars, are already driving more than 25000 km every day in the US. Finally there will be another test track in Germany, leading into the city. I am looking forward to seeing the autonomous cars in action, as it's another small but important step towards Digital Germany.