On May 05, 2015 I had asked “Dude, Where’s My Hydrogen Fuel Cell Driverless Car?” That call was answered in late August 2015 when Hyundai introduced their self-driving R car that is now in development.
Mercedes-Benz has also dipped both toes in the hydrogen fuel cell driverless car arena by testing its new F 015 concept (pictured above) on a 24-mile test drive in San Francisco without incident.
But while Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai are on-board with FCEV self-driving cars, Toyota has announced that they are taking a different foray into the future of driving by developing “intelligent cars” instead of driverless vehicles.
Toyota has partnered with Stanford and MIT to develop vehicles with artificial intelligence, without taking the driver from behind the wheel.
According to Toyota, “As we age, mobility becomes more challenging; and larger segments of society are unable to drive or move freely. Also, the demands on healthcare systems and those who support the physically infirm continue to increase. Toyota believes the opportunities to improve every-day living through artificial intelligence supported technologies are boundless, with significant breakthrough potential for the development of life-saving intelligent vehicles and life-improving robots.”
In order to aid in refueling fleet FCEV self-driving cars and intelligent vehicles (like future Uber self-driving fleets), it may be necessary to develop robotic hydrogen fueling stations that need no human interaction while refueing vehicles. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has already developed a robot to test the hoses at hydrogen fueling stations. Perhaps something similar could be developed for automated H2 refueling as well.
For both self-driving and intelligent cars the main goal is safety (saving lives). A second goal is to empower people with increased mobility. As I look into my somewhat cloudy mildly cracked crystal ball I see a future increasingly filled with not only FCEV’s and BEV’s but various driverless vehicles and intelligent cars as well.
An ancient, somewhat debatable, Chinese curse of unknown origin states, “May you live in interesting times.” I choose to take this as a positive, however, and I cannot wait to see what the next 5 years holds for this new, emerging driving technology.