Self Driving Cars: On the cusp of revolutionary change


Since Henry Ford invented the concept of moving assembly line, the automotive industry has witnessed the technological advancements, which eventually lead to cleaner, affordable, and safer vehicles. However, in the early decades of the 21st century, the automotive sector appears to be on the cusp of the revolutionary change, which is “self-driving” vehicles and the adoption time would be sooner than we think.

What is a self-driving car?

Self-driving car (also called as driverless car, autonomous car, and robotic car) is a vehicle that uses artificial intelligence (AI) software, cameras, combinations of sensors, radar, and so forth to travel between the destinations without any human intervention.

The Five Autonomous Driving Levels:

Driving Level Level of Automation Description
Level 0 No Automation Driver performs each and every task.
Level 1 Driver Assistance A little driver assistance is provided. For instance, extra braking is provided in case the vehicle is too close to any object. However, the driver handles accelerating, braking, and surrounding monitoring tasks.
Level 2 Partial Automation Vehicle assists with steering or accelerating functions. However, the driver should be ready to take on the controls at any point of time and is responsible for the most safety-critical functions.
Level 3 Conditional Automation Vehicle uses sensors to monitor the surrounding.  Here, attention of the driver is critical; however, a driver can disengage from “safety critical” functions such as braking and leave it to the technology in safe conditions.
Level 4 High Automation Vehicle is capable of steering, accelerating, braking, and monitoring the surroundings. Also, it can change lanes, follow signals, and take turns on the roads. However, the vehicle is not capable of determining the dynamic situations such as the merge on the highway and traffic jams.
Level 5 Complete Automation At this level, no human intervening is needed. Recently, NVIDIA announced an AI computer that will help to achieve the Level 5 autonomy. This will require simply entering the destination point and leaving the rest onto the vehicle. This is also called as the self-driving car.


Adoption of a self-driving car

As of 2018, car manufacturers have achieved three levels but the self-driving vehicles will take few more years to enter the market due to the gap between technology and infrastructure. However, Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project, started in 2009 and is driving around 25,000 miles each day, and till date have successfully driven 10 million miles.

Assuming that the technology has matured enough to  enter the market, the open questions wondered would be – who will be the early adopters of these vehicles, and will consumers buy them, and so on. The industry experts agree on the fact that the age of self-driving car is arriving, but actually reaching the success point will require many pieces of the large puzzle to be fitted together. However, when it will happen and how still remains an open question.

So says a study…….

According to a recent report published by Allied Market Research, titled,  Autonomous Vehicle Market by Level of Automation, Component, and Application: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019–2026, the global autonomous vehicle market is expected to be valued at $54 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $557 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 39.5% from 2019 to 2026.

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Autonomous vehicles use AI) software, light detection & ranging (LiDAR), and RADAR sensing technology, which is used to monitor a 60-m range around the car and form active 3D map of the current environment. In addition, technology advancements such as reading driver’s facial expression and activities such as drifting, braking, and accelerations to prevent possible accidents make them more powerful, efficient, and attractive.

At present, North America dominates the market, followed by Europe. In 2019, the U.S. is expected to remain dominant in the North American market, while the UK is projected to lead the overall market in Europe.

The elimination of accidents caused due to manual errors and reduced carbon dioxide emission from autonomous vehicle are expected to drive the growth of the market. In addition, less battery capacity & less consumption of gas by autonomous vehicle and high penetration in the automotive sector are expected to boost the market growth. However, low consumer acceptance ratio and the burgeoning threat from hackers in the driving operation is anticipated to hamper the growth of the market.