Three years ago, in 2017, Audi foreshadowed Level 3 autonomy in its luxury A8 sedan.
Now, three years later, Audi has announced Level 3 won’t be coming to the A8. Surprisingly, Audi attributes this about-face to legislation, not technology.
Audi board member Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler shared with Automotive News Europe (subscription required):
“Currently, there is no legal framework for Level 3 automated driving and it is not possible to homologate such functions anywhere in the world in a series production car.”
I know. I had to look up “homologate”, too.
Apparently the lawyers got nervous that customers might not service and maintain their cars, then the vehicles would crash, and Audi would be on the hook.
If the real issue here is liability, not technology, that suggests the first movers toward Level 3 vehicles will be companies with very little to lose. So maybe not Tesla, which is now the most valuable American automaker, by an order of magnitude.
Maybe Level 3 will come from some small startup that doesn’t have to worry about losing billions of dollars in market capitalization that it never had in the first place.