Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Driverless vehicle shipments to reach 14 million by 2020: ABI

Iain Morris
September 18, 2014
Global shipments of driverless vehicles are expected to reach 14 million by 2020, according to a new study from ABI Research.

The market-research company says shipments will then grow from 1.1 million in 2024 to more than 42 million in 2035, when the installed driverless vehicle base will reach 176 million.

“While autonomous driving under the control of a human standby driver is quickly gaining acceptance, robotic vehicles mostly remain out of bounds, especially for car manufacturers, despite Google's recent announcement to start prototype testing,” said Dominique Bonte, practice director at ABI. “However, only driverless vehicles will bring the full range of automation benefits including car sharing; driverless taxis, and delivery vans; social mobility for kids, elderly, and impaired; and overall economic growth through cheaper and smoother transportation critical in an increasing number of smart mega cities.”

“Many barriers remain but the path towards robotic vehicles is now firmly established with high rewards for those first-to-market,” added Bonte.

Despite progress on technology – in terms of both sensor hardware and artificial intelligence – user acceptability, security and regulation remain barriers.

ABI says that single-mode driverless vehicles face the biggest hurdles, as Google (Mountain View, CA, USA) has already experienced, with the California Department of Motor Vehicles forcing the web giant to test its prototypes with a steering wheel, brake and acceleration pedals firmly in place.

Indeed, moving the driver from the equation represents a very disruptive step, notes ABI, even though it would give the industry and opportunity to address mounting safety concerns about manual-autonomous handover management in co-pilot vehicles and make driver monitoring systems superfluous.

Google has already acknowledged that removing ambiguity about whether the vehicle or the driver is in charge would be a critical step forwards.

ABI says the industry should start preparing for driverless vehicles instead of spending all its time, effort and money on various complicated forms of semi-autonomous driving.

Nevertheless, it admits that there is still no certainty on if and when carmakers will be ready for this “leap of faith”.
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