Autonomous cars are continuing to evolve and make great strides towards reality. Advisory firm Gartner Inc. defines an autonomous vehicle as:
“…one that can drive itself from a starting point to a predetermined destination in “autopilot” mode using various in-vehicle technologies and sensors, including adaptive cruise control, active steering (steer by wire), anti-lock braking systems (brake by wire), GPS navigation technology, lasers, and radar.”
Today, there are over 40 autonomous car companies each vying for a space in the industry Valued at over $56.21 billion in 2020, the global driverless car market is anticipated to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.06% between 2020-2025 as car manufacturers battle it out to claim as much market share as possible.
Autonomous technology is on the road today
Most vehicles on the road today offer level 2 autonomy of the autonomous driving standards set by SAE. Level 3 provides the ability to detect the surrounding environment. The jump from level 2 to level 3 automation requires significant technology advancements. In March 2021, Honda will be the first automaker to mass-produce vehicles with autonomous capabilities that meet SAE Level 3 standards.
Today, self-driving features are being incrementally added to vehicles for autonomous control. Earlier in 2020, several buses and trucks completed autonomous missions.
In December 2020, Tesla’s FSD-equipped Model 3 completed the first known and recorded instance of a self-driving trip. The car drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles without user input.
Most cars on the road today have autonomous features and they are increasing.
Through a partnership with self-driving startup TuSimple, UPS alongside food service delivery company McLane, have already made great progress by integrating self-driving trucks into their delivery frameworks. Over in Florida, self-driving NAVYA shuttles are the transportation of choice to freight COVID-19 tests to Mayo Clinic.
In 2020, self-driving software company Aptiv and ridesharing company Lyft reached a major milestone: the companies crossed 100,000 rides of its autonomous passenger service in Las Vegas. The company now services over 3,400 spots in Las Vegas, including popular locations such as the Los Angeles Convention Center and McCarren International Airport.
Autonomous vehicle development hasn’t been a completely smooth ride
In March 2018, during a public road testing, a pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg was killed by an Uber autonomous car in Tempe, Arizona.
It was a hard year for Tesla as well, because, in that very same month, a fatal Tesla Model X car crash was recorded in Mountain View, California. The cause of death was linked to a mishap in the car’s Autopilot feature.
Several auto leaders have noted that Levels 4 and 5 (high and full automation, respectively) could be several decades away.
What’s preventing L4+ autonomy?
- Sensors do not work in inclement weather – e.g., an AV will not function in the loop at 7 PM in January when snow is falling.
- Algorithms cannot adjust to terrain changes like humans – e.g. switching from a smooth, paved road to a dirt trail.
- There are currently no defined FMVSS standards to qualify a vehicle as L4 or L5. Said another way, regulations have yet to be defined.
- OEMs, T1s, and high tech companies are having to bypass L3 because of the reliance on drivers to assume control when the AV can no longer operate the vehicle
5G technology paves the way for autonomous advancements
The foundations for autonomous driving are fast and reliable communication networks. 5G network connections will have a major influence on the development of self-driving cars making them faster, smarter, and safer. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated technology advancements. Faster networks are the framework or foundation of technology trends that are driving the Industrial Revolution.
5G technology enables car connectivity so vehicles can connect to everything – other vehicles, the infrastructure, network services, and other road users. 5G is a critical enabler to all these technologies. Fast networks and connectivity allow autonomous cars to move around safely in the real world.
There are, however, some issues with getting the appropriate 5G coverage needed to make highly autonomous cars a reality. Telcom investments and network expansions are needed to support the 5G infrastructure. With at least 42% of the U.S. workforce working from home, there has never been a greater need than now for the investment.
Why autonomous cars are the future
There are numerous reasons why autonomous cars are the future of the automotive industry. The benefits to society are significant – fewer accidents, greater asset usage, less pollution, greater access to mobility, to name a few.
Perhaps on account of the coronavirus and efforts to reduce the spread of the disease, driverless cars have become very attractive for many individuals as an alternative to public transportation.
For example, there are high hopes that operational efficiency and service delivery will improve with the adoption of these cars in the service industry.
Looking to the future, the annual production levels of robo-cars are expected to reach 800,000 units by 2030. Robo-cars are driverless entities boasting advanced driver-assistance systems of levels 4 and 5.
At least 20% of the total new car sales in China in 2030 will be for autonomous vehicles. And the country that is the readiest to adopt autonomous vehicles is Singapore.
In the U.S., there are already well over 1,400 self-driving cars in various stages of testing deployed across the country by 80-plus companies.
Autonomous cars being touted as an integral part of the future. Additional facts about Autonomous Vehicles:
Automakers are forging full steam ahead with the development of self-driving technologies. There are promises to avail more self-driving vehicles in near future.
In March 2020, Aptiv and Hyundai jointly formed Motional – promising to make driverless vehicles a safe, reliable, and accessible reality. Motional is developing and commercializing SAE Level 4 vehicles. Its driverless systems and supporting technology will be available for robo-taxi providers and fleet operators in 2022.
In December 2020, Amazon’s Zoox unveils its own autonomous robo-taxi.
The race is on to gain as much market share in what could be a very competitive and lucrative space.
Liberty’s hands-on automotive experience is why we are able to understand and appreciate the challenges that our clients face. The advisors in our Automotive & Mobility Practice do not have generalist backgrounds – they are Engineers and Computer Scientists who are passionate about the auto industry and how it continually evolves. Furthermore, they have worked across the entire vehicle development lifecycle along with the critical organizations that are responsible for bringing sedans, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs to market.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our strategists to map a way forward for your business, contact us today.
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