The first autonomous cars will make their debut in 2020, and the total number of new registrations of autonomous cars is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 62 per cent from 0.2m units in 2020 to reach 24m units in 2030, with the active installed base of autonomous cars forecast to reach around 71m by the end of 2030.
The figures come from a new report from the analyst Berg Insight and include SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Level 3 and Level 4 cars. Level 3 is defined as: ‘Within known, limited environments (such as freeways), the driver can safely turn their attention away from driving tasks.’, while Level 4 is defined thus: ‘The automated system can control the vehicle in all but a few environments such as severe weather. The driver must enable the automated system only when it is safe to do so. When enabled, driver attention is not required.’ Level 5 is fully autonomous, where, other than setting the destination and starting the system, no human intervention is required.
Berg believes it is important to note that autonomous cars are not a single innovation; rather the technology can be seen as a continuum of various levels of autonomy where the amount of driver involvement is the main differentiating factor. Furthermore, several sophisticated technologies must come together to enable a car to safely drive by itself and autonomous cars will therefore roll out in incremental phases. In particular, software for interpreting sensor information and managing the driving logic is key to the development of self-driving cars.
Several car makers have initiated projects to develop self-driving features in their cars. The incumbent automakers have been joined by multiple new actors such as IT companies and other tech firms. Most incumbent automotive companies pursue an incremental approach with step-by-step roll-out of autonomous systems, while startups and IT companies take a more revolutionary direction and aim at developing fully autonomous cars immediately from scratch.
“These pathways do not contradict each other, as different autonomous systems are suitable in different use cases. We will continue to see development from both sides for still some years before the two approaches converge”, said Ludvig Barrehag, M2M/IoT analyst at Berg Insight.
Berg believes that the advent of autonomous cars will have a tremendous impact on our society in several ways. It notes that cars are among the most costly as well as inefficiently used assets of today, adding that when cars can operate around the clock on a service-based business model, it results in a tremendous increase of their utilization rate.
Furthermore, autonomous cars will improve the quality of life for people unable to drive; reduce the number of road traffic accidents; and increase overall traffic efficiency. The economic benefits are vast, Berg says. The challenge is to succeed in making self-driving cars sufficiently reliable at a reasonable cost to enable commercialization.
There’s more information about the report here.