We 'drove' a self-driving Bosch car. It was boring as hell, but then that's the point

Driverless systems

The notion of automated or driverless cars is nothing new. Nor are ambitions to put them on public roads in some form perhaps as soon as the end of the decade. But Bosch joining the party puts an interesting new spin on things.

For starters, Bosch doesn't actually make cars. It makes components and systems for car makers. That's important because it means lesser car brands will be able to buy Bosch's automated car kit off the shelf.

Think of it as a democratisation of driverless tech. It won't just be handful of big, prestige brands that will be able to sell you a robocar. With Bosch's help, even boutique manufacturers will be able to do it.

So, what exactly is Bosch planning? The company actually has a whole hill of different automated car technologies, some already available, which form a roadmap from today's assisted driving to the fully automated cars of the future.

The list of Bosch kit in cars you can buy today includes adaptive cruise control powered by radar sensors, evasive steering assist that helps drivers avoid obstacles, emergency brake assist, lane keeping assistance that prevents you from accidentally drifting out of your lane and even a system that detects pedestrians and automatically applies the brakes should a pedestrian step into the car's path.

If you put all these systems together, you are most of the way to a driverless car already. In technological terms, you could even argue the final step to fully automated isn't a huge leap.

But things get really interesting in 2020. That's the earliest predicted date for Bosch's Highway Pilot. This enables fully automated driving, but only on motorways. From the on ramp to the off ramp, the car will simply drive itself.

If that sounds far fetched, Bosch is nothing if not bullish. According to Bosch bigwig, Dr Dirk Hoheisel, "most of the key technical challenges that automated driving presents will have been solved by the end of the decade." Bosch prototypes have already been running autonomously on motorways in both Germany (on the A81) and the United States (on the I280) since the beginning of 2013.

As for fully automated driving on all types of roads, Bosch says that's a trickier problem for 2025 and beyond.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.