To the layperson tooling to work and back in a Ford Explorer, the speakers at the TU-Automotive conference in suburban Detroit in early June might have seemed like visitors from the future who were pretty clueless about what was happening in real time on the terra firma. In five years, the world will have made the shift to driverless cars, was the wildly optimistic but not entirely unrealistic view. The government regulations, public acceptance, collaboration and infrastructure that will have to change and adapt--that's the messy part, and fitting all that into five years seems almost impossible. But things are moving faster on the commercial fleet side of connected and autonomous vehicles, and that may well speed up change on the consumer end.
Needless to say, this convergence of technology, academia, machinery and international know-how was filled with visions of a better world where citizens share cars and parents have meaningful time with their kids as the car drives itself.
The one thing missing from the conference: an actual working autonomous car.