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Autonomous vehicles get in the fast lane for next decade

Analyst Statista sees the increased arrival of driverless cars on global highways as proof of the curtain rising on the next act of mobility disruption

By 2030, a tenth of vehicles worldwide will be self-driving, and the market volume of fully automated cars getting into gear by this time is expected to be worth $13.7bn, according to the latest DossierPlus report from Statista.

The analyst’s study said that after billions of miles of tests in simulations or on public roads, self-driving cars are beginning to leave the test tracks.

Autonomous driving has come a long way since Waymo (previously named the Google Self-Driving Car Project) started testing self-driving cars. The report noted that digital taxi firm Uber has invested more than $1bn over three years on self-driving cars.

Statista also observed that when General Motors subsidiary Cruise received US$3.4bn in funding in 2018, the overall automotive startup funding had increased ten-fold over the past five years, reaching a record-breaking $US 27.5bn in 2018.

By contrast, the research notes that traditional car manufacturers have come under pressure to raise capital to cope with the costs associated with employee training and research activities. With market commercialisation still a decade away, companies such as Uber and General Motors are facing immense costs swallowed by their respective self-driving units.

Looking at which regions are driving autonomous vehicles, Statista pointed to autonomous vehicle (AV) test pilots in California, and that Beijing and the city of Hamburg have also set up infrastructure for the testing of geo-fenced driverless vehicles. It predicts that Hamburg will see autonomous public transport begin in 2021.

Despite its evident bullishness for the development of the market, Statista added the caveat that market growth depends on the speed of consumer acceptance and the manufacturers’ ability to scale up production.

It said that many consumers see attacks from hackers as the main barrier to autonomous vehicle adoption, with four-fifths of consumers not trusting self-driving cars to provide enough vehicle security, and more than 70% believing AV systems will not be safe from hackers. 

Assessing where the predicted revenues are likely to be sourced, the report stated that with an estimated market size of US$1.161tn, robo-taxis are projected to become the top use case for driverless vehicles.

The analyst remarked that as of today, businesses have already spent billions on related research and development activities to reap the enticing rewards of the robo-taxi market. Global demand for advanced driving (AD) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is also projected to spur the market growth for automotive semiconductors and sensors. These systems will prove crucial when machines are taking over the controls, helping driverless vehicles navigate and detect obstacles on the road.

AD and ADAS systems were the focus of a number of the world’s leading technology companies at the recent CES 2020. Qualcomm Technologies used the event primarily as a platform for its advances in in-vehicle systems. Most notably, it launched a new platform, Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride, to accelerate autonomous driving and has entered into a partnership with Sasken Technologies to extend engineering and customisation support for its automotive customer base.

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