Autonomous/Driverless Car Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecast (2022 - 2027)
The autonomous (driverless) car market was valued at USD 20.97 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 61.93 billion projecting a CAGR of 22.75%, during the forecast period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the overall automotive industry, compelling automakers to cut down the output at their production plants. COVID-19 has also impacted the operations of many OEMs, from production to R&D creating short-term disruption delaying autonomous cars deployment and rollouts.
The recent technological advancements in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other sensors like RADAR, LIDAR, GPS, and computer vision, have enabled manufacturers to increase self-driving capabilities in cars. Though there are varying levels of autonomy, major players are working towards more advanced control systems integrated into the car that can interpret the sensory inputs to detect signboards or avoid collisions.
Currently, most of the autonomous cars in the market belong to Level 2 and Level 3 which have advanced driver assistance systems, like collision detection, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Although Level 4 and Level 5 (as scaled by SAE) autonomous cars are unlikely to reach wide acceptance, by 2030, it is expected that there would be rapid growth for Level 2 and Level 3 autonomous cars until then. Fully autonomous cars will not reach a wide customer base unless they are entirely safe from cyber-attacks. If such concerns are addressed, the autonomous car market is estimated to have positive growth in the coming years.
Major automaker companies, technology giants, and specialist start-ups have invested more than USD 50 billion over the past five years to develop autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, with 70% of the money coming from outside the automotive industry. As public authorities understand that autonomous vehicles have vast potential and offer economic and social benefits, they will likely continue to support the concerned market.
The principal components of autonomous vehicles are sensors and cameras, Lidar acts as an eye for self-driving vehicles as it provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding, which helps vehicles drive on their own, safely. It is used by many autonomous vehicles to navigate environments in real-time. Its advantages include accurate depth perception, which allows LiDAR to know the distance to an object to within a few centimeters, up to 60 meters away. It's also highly suitable for 3D mapping, which means returning vehicles can then navigate the environment predictably a significant benefit for most self-driving technologies.
One of the key strengths of LiDAR is the number of areas that show potential for improvement. These include solid-state sensors, which could reduce its cost tenfold, sensor range increases of up to 200m, and 4-dimensional LiDAR, which senses the velocity of an object as well as its position in 3-D space. However, despite these exciting advances, LiDAR is still hindered by a key factor; its significant cost.
Following the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) International automated driving standards, cars with level 1-3 automation features have been considered under the market segment of semi-autonomous vehicles. Level 1 automation is a common feature in most of the current car models of major automakers, like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Level 2 include Models, like Volvo Pilot Assist, Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot, Tesla Autopilot, and Cadillac Super Cruise, have been supplied with level 2 automation features. Level 3 automation is referred to as conditional automation. In level 3 automation, the autonomous cars driving system performs all the dynamic driving tasks with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene. The dynamic driving task includes steering, breaking, accelerating, changing lanes, and monitoring the vehicle, along with responding to events happening on the road.
Even in the pandemic, autonomous cars witnessed a rise in sales, as in 2020, around 11.2 million cars were sold with level 2 features, which is an increase of 78% from 2019. To cater to the demand, automakers around the world are introducing new level 2 autonomous vehicle models. For instance,
North America is expected to dominate the market in the forecast period. Owing to factors like strong and established automotive company clusters and also being the home for the world's biggest technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc the region has been a pioneer regard to autonomous vehicles. Particularly in the United States, self-driving cars have already been tested and used in California, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Michigan, and other states of the United States. However, their mobility is currently restricted to specific test areas and driving conditions.
Various technology companies in the country are reaching new milestones in terms of total miles tested. For instance, Cruise LLC completed 2020 by doubling its figure of how far its cars can go before a safety driver needs to take over. The company reported 27 disengagements during the 770,000 miles testing in California. During testing in 2020, the human driver had to take over every 28,520 miles compared to every 12,221 miles last year.
Similarly, Apple Inc. completed road testing of its self-driving cars in 2020, which experienced more than double the miles traveled than in 2019, attributed to its improved autonomous technology. The company's cars drove 18,805 miles in 2020, as compared to 7,544 miles in 2019, according to a report of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Apart from various local companies, the country is witnessing the entry of companies from other countries. For instance, in February 2021, Vietnam's domestic automaker, Vinfast, announced that it had obtained a permit to test autonomous vehicles on California's public streets. The company was seeking this permit to commercialize its electric vehicles in the US market.
Following North America, Asia-Pacific is also expected to have a positive growth in the forecast period due to the factors like China being the biggest automotive market in the world, Manufacturing capabilities of countries like Japan, South Korea, and also emerging economies like India.
Many automakers are teaming up with the local ride hailing companies to deploying their vehicle in the autonomous taxi fleet. For instance, in April 2021, Volvo Cars and DiDi Autonomous Driving, signed a strategic collaboration agreement on autonomous vehicles for DiDi's self-driving test fleet. Volvo Cars will be providing DiDi with XC90 cars equipped with necessary backup systems for functions such as steering and braking; and along with that automaker will collaborate with DiDi Autonomous Driving to integrate the additional software and hardware required for autonomous drive.
In India automakers are partnering with institutes for the research in autonomous vehicles. For instance, in March 2021, MG Motor India joined hands with IIT Delhi's Centre for Automotive Research and Tribology (CART) for research in the field of electric and autonomous vehicles. IIT Delhi will help MG to further focus on CASE mobility (Connected - Autonomous - Shared - Electric); through enabling supporting research for deployment of electric and autonomous vehicles in the urban landscape in India.
Many players from the hardware to software firms in the automotive industry have started focusing on entering into the growing trend of autonomous driving technology. Thus, partnerships, collaborations, and investments toward developing autonomous vehicles increased significantly in the automotive industry over the past three years (i.e., 2018-2020). They are likely to continue growing during the forecast period, primarily due to the increasing support from governments and private sectors across several countries to promote autonomous driving vehicle technology.
In January 2021, Automotive Grade Linux announced that it had included Aicas, AVL, and Citos as new Bronze members. AGL is an open-source project at the Linux Foundation that brings together automakers, suppliers, and technology companies to accelerate the development of all technologies related to vehicles, including autonomous driving.
Similarly, in January 2021, the automotive technology company, Veoneer, Inc., and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. have signed an agreement under which the companies will collaborate on the delivery of scalable Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Collaborative and Autonomous Driving (AD) solutions.