Level 5 autonomy requires no steering wheel. We're at Level 3 right now.
The era of autonomous cars has arrived, although not everyone wants to admit it. Level 3 autonomy is currently possible, and Levels 4 and, eventually, 5, are on the way. Level 5, of course, means no human intervention required and therefore no need for a steering wheel. Don't believe it? Give it a decade. But what about famed sports cars like the Porsche 911? Heck, what about the entire Porsche lineup, along with other enthusiast driving brands? What'll happen to them? They'll have to somehow adapt.
Autocar noticed that in a recently released interview with Porsche's head of finance and IT, Lutz Meschke, the automaker basically reaffirmed its commitment to drivers and their choice of whether to drive or be driven. Meschke's bottom line was that Porsche has a goal of being one of the last, if not the last, to sell cars with steering wheels. So that's good to hear, but Porsche is still very much developing self-driving systems, many of which are already available as safety tech. Other upcoming driverless tech will include traffic jam assist and full self-parking. But the big question is how does driving a Porsche and autonomous technology even go together?
It does, according to Meschke. "We see digitalization and autonomous driving not as a threat but as a tremendous opportunity," he said. How so? In the near future, Porsche wants 10 percent of its business to come from digital services, like on-demand car-sharing and on-demand track insurance. Also expect Tesla-style over-the-air updates. "Imagine that you could use a software update to download a few more horsepower over-the-air at short notice if you want to head to the race track on the weekend – or dynamic headlights if you are headed for a long night drive." And speaking of track driving, how can it be done without a steering wheel?
Think that previously mentioned "Mark Webber" mode, which involves being driven around a track at top speed in the style of a pro racing driver. Sounds interesting, but we prefer to enjoy our steering wheels while we can.