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Continental's Ruf sees driver distraction as a problem in connecting cars (Photo: automotiveIT)

Autonomous driving is likely to start with commercial vehicles rather than with passenger cars, a senior Continental executive said Tuesday.

"I think it's easier to realize with trucks, which move at a slower speed, tend to stick to the right lane and already often drive in a cue on the highway," said Michael Ruf, who heads Continental's commercial vehicle and aftermarket operations.

Ruf, who spoke at the annual carIT-Mobility 3.0 Congress here, said that, from a technical point of view, there is little that stands in the way of autonomous driving. "But there are a few legal issues that need to be sorted out," he added.

The supplier executive painted a picture of commercial vehicles that, in the near term, will all be connected to a range of Cloud-based services that will make them safer, more environmentally friendlly and more efficient.

But he also mentioned a range of challenges to overcome before getting to a fully connected state. Among these are the complexity involved in combining consumer-electronics and automotive environments, the high customer expectations and the danger of drivers being distracted by too much information.

To manage the flood of information coming into a vehicle, Ruf said systems need to select what data are essential and not offer information that may not be relevant to a driver. Better interfaces can help integrate data and prioritize them as well, he said.