On May 5, 2015 I posted a blog named “Dude, Where’s My Hydrogen Fuel Cell Driverless Car?” A few months earlier Mercedes teased the public with its concept autonomous f 015 fuel cell vehicle (see photo at top) and this was the first indication that carmakers may want to combine high tech hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with driverless, intelligent car technology.
Since this point in time, most self-driving car technology that is being developed is doing so independent of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (with a few exceptions). Apple, Google, Uber, Tesla and a few others have chosen to pair autonomous tech with other vehicle propulsion systems.
Now, let’s talk about the exceptions. The Chinese search engine company Baidu has decided to use its artificial intelligence algorithms with the development of hydrogen fuel cell buses. The University of Birmingham in the UK, has made a case for the use of Autonomous Fuel Cell Railway Vehicles.
Hyundai has gone as far as putting its fully-autonomous Tucson Fuel Cell SUVs on the roads (for testing) in South Korea and the U. S. (see photo below)
One major setback occurred in June 2016, when a driver of a Model S was killed when the vehicle hit a truck while in autonomous mode. As a response Tesla says it will announce a major update, Autopilot 2.0 soon.
What does the future hold for autonomous vehicles? According to IBTimes, “Honda Chairman Fumihiko Ike said the Japanese government is putting tremendous pressure on carmakers to perfect self-driving features. Japan is eager to showcase such technology in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, by having driverless cars pick up athletes from airports and take them to Olympic Village. But Ike acknowledged he had doubts. Unexpected things could happen on roads, like a package falling out of a van, and the human brain has better powers of coping with the unexpected than the best artificial intelligence, he said. ‘We have to see,’ Ike said on when self-driving cars might become common. ‘The final answer will be from the whole society.’”
What does the future hold for autonomous fuel cell vehicles? It’s bright! With fast fueling times and zero emissions coupled with the efficiencies inherent to self-driving vehicles, fuel cell vehicles are a natural partner with autonomous technology.