Following in the footsteps of Google, Continental has become the first automotive supplier to receive approval from Nevada to conduct autonomous vehicle testing in the state's public roads. Google was granted the state's first autonomous vehicle license back in May.
"At Continental, we continue to invest in research and development for next generation technologies – such as our highly automated vehicle – that will drive us toward a safer, more efficient and more comfortable future," said Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the executive board of Continental. "As a company, Continental's strategy is clearly focused on making this type of future technology a reality.”
Unlikely Google's autonomous vehicle, Continental's self-driving car was designed to have a human behind the wheel. Although the VW-based vehicle is capable of driving itself down an open highway or navigating through rush-hour traffic, it was ultimately designed as a driver assist system. Because of that simpler approach, Continental is hopeful it will be able to put partially autonomous vehicle technology on the road by 2016.
However, the parts supplier is also looking at the long-term. Continental will eventually evolve its technology into a fully autonomous vehicle, with the company aiming to launch such a vehicle between 2020 and 2025.