It strikes me that there are really a couple of basic ways of doing this.
I hadn't even really considered this until today but reading between the lines there appears to be a fundamental difference in the way that China and the west are approaching things.
The common school of thought is that the manufacturers build cars that basically do all the things drivers do, (hopefully not the bad things that tend to kill people) and will effectively be a plug in replacement for the driver. Add to that some communications where cars can talk to each other to know about traffic density, road works and other impediments and the car decides which way to go.
The vehicle programs the route and away it goes.
For the sake of argument and my less than perfect interpretation of how I think China could be heading, lets turn that on its head....
China is already installing devices in manually driven vehicles to allow them to communicate between themselves and infrastructure as a pilot program and to spread across all of China.
Once that's in place, imagine a possible scenario where a state sanctioned vehicle is built. The state has implemented an integrated, centralised transport infrastructure system including a control centre.
The drivers gets into the car and punches in the destination. The car connects to the centralised control centre that knows the position of every vehicle on the road, the location of every road work, every emergency vehicle and its destination and traffic densities at every intersection.
Based on this information it can calculate the optimal route and send it back to the vehicle which then takes off in autonomous mode. Any changes to traffic conditions can generate a new route, long before the vehicle reaches a congestion point.
Now for the good and the bad.
With this in place before the vehicles actually hit the road means that the real life integration of manually driven vehicles and autonomous vehicles can be made much simpler. Think adaptive traffic lights from a centralised system to even out traffic flow, diversion from collision scenes, optimisation of routes for emergency vehicles including advance avoidance by the autonomous vehicles and possible in car warning to manual cars as part of the infrastructure build. By optimising the entire system as an entity, rather than individual units, the system can be coordinated as a whole making it extremely efficient.
Now for the downside.
Big brother knows exactly where you are, always. It can also hijack you if it wants to. If you wanted to be really paranoid and go the full conspiracy route, it could also direct you to a drive off a cliff and no one would be any the wiser. Unfortunately history has proven that governments are capable of these kind of acts in both the East and the West.
Anyone who is driving manually won't be able to get away with anything. Run a red light, you're done, because the system knows where your car is and what the light status is. This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how far they enforce the rules. It could also supply a lever as automation becomes more common to shift drivers away from manual control.
The middle ground.
If a system like this was to be contemplated, at least in the west, it would have to be heavily wrapped in safeguards to make it work without being exploited, hacked or otherwise turned into a weapon of mass destruction.
I can't really see the west evolving anytime soon to a system like this, but in China, given the social and political structure, anything is possible.
At opposite ends of the spectrum both Mini and Rolls Royce are both preparing for the future with not only autonomous but electric cars.
Rolls Royce has built what I think is the best concept car ever, surpassing even the Australian FJ holden concept.
It will probably never see the light of day as a production vehicle but does show the way the thinking is going - and I really really like it...
Mini, on the other hand is looking at merging two worlds.
Where Rolls Royce is, and always will be, looking at private ownership. Mini, on the other hand, is looking at an alternate world where private ownership is optional.
But customising a shared vehicle to reflect the current drivers personality is a really radical and quite inovative concept. the car colour can be changed by the driver.
Who knows, you may even be able to have an account and the car reconfigures itself on the way to you and you see it as "your car" when it arrives.
New technologies have combined and created a new electric autonomous shuttle bus using 3D printing and it's called Ollie.
Built through crowd sourcing it exemplifies many technologies and processes not even dreamed of ten years ago.
Ollie will be giving autonomous rides at the companies introductory event on the new National Harbour Campus today.16/6/2016.