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Driverless cars’ chances halted by tumbleweed

Autonomous vehicles still struggle with mundane challenges such as tumbleweed, police officers giving traffic directions and wild animals, a Volkswagen executive has warned attendees at a conference session on the challenges facing the much-hyped technology.

Thomas Form, an electronics researcher for the carmaker, was speaking on a conference panel at the Los Angeles Connected Car Expo alongside executives from Delphi and Continental, two of the industry's biggest suppliers.

The panel took place against the backdrop of bullish expectations about the potential for cars to take over responsibility for big swaths of driving from humans in as little as 10 years.

However, Mr Form — who works for a department unconnected with VW's current diesel emissions scandal — said that "unfortunately" he had to outline what would be necessary before the technology was properly used on the roads.

"I think probably a lot of us have experience with having demonstrated automatic driving on highways," Mr Form said. "In sunny weather, everything is fine. Do we have every time everywhere sunny weather?"