Safety concerns still a major roadblock for autonomous car market

In order for the driverless vehicle market revolution to take off and for the world to enjoy its advantages, the disadvantages of its technological shortages must be fixed.

07/01/2017


Once considered a fictional fragment of scientific sphere, the autonomous cars market is bringing driverless vehicles to reality, thanks to innovative technological advancements. Autonomous vehicles will ante up the appealing factor of urban development and contribute to making road travel safe, easy, and inexpensive. The global autonomous cars market is predicted to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 15% over 2016 to 2025.

An autonomous vehicle/car is one that is designed to drive on its own from the source to the designated destination point. It functions in an "auto-pilot" mode and this automation requires the application of advanced multiple-sensor technologies such as GPS, radar, laser technology, anti-lock braking systems, cruise control, and active steering.

In fact, many high-end luxury cars comprise automatic emergency brakes as a precautionary feature to safeguard the passenger's life. As per a report study by Global Market Insights, Inc., the automatic emergency braking market was worth more than $1 billion in 2015 and is slated to record a CAGR of 29.3% over 2016 to 2024.

Self-driving vehicles are no doubt, the next big thing from autonomous cars market, poised to take over the traditional mode of transport. As per industry experts, these cars are here to stay and are slated to change the face of modern transportation.

Autonomous driving is expected to be one of most disruptive trends and is likely to transform the automotive industry, even though these cars are not yet completely mainstream. Humans tend to prefer driving ourselves for reasons of safety and security and most importantly, handling control. Convincing consumers to shift from traditional driving will remain one of the key challenges for this industry.

How do autonomous cars work?

  • Autonomous driving requires high-end sensor-driven technologies. These cars are monitored by a central computer system that analyses the data from all the sensors to control the functions of braking, steering, and acceleration.
  • Obstacle monitoring is handled by efficient video cameras, positioned to look out for pedestrians, read signs, track vehicles around the car, and detect traffic lights. Monitoring the position of surrounding vehicles is carried out by radar sensors around the car. According to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., the automotive radar market is predicted to register a CAGR of 18.7% during 2016 to 2024.
  • Parking problems are solved using ultrasonic sensors fixed on to car wheels. These sensors help identify the position of curbs when parking. Road markings and edges are detected using high-end LIDAR sensors.

How will the autonomous cars market revolutionize the automotive industry?

Less number of accidents. Road accidents are stated to be one of the prime causes of deaths all over the world. Most accidents occur due to careless drivers, non-compliance of traffic rules, loss of control over the steering wheel, braking problems, and the like. With autonomous cars, the worry about these pointers go down, as advanced programs in these cars are far less likely to commit errors as compared to humans.

Car-pooling services. Driverless cars will result in increased carpooling services, which in turn will propel the autonomous cars market. Declining preference toward vehicle ownership, reduced expenditure, and increased product sales will fuel industry growth.

Easy for disabled individuals. The functionality in regular cars is a little complex for disabled individuals, which results in them facing difficulties in most situations when it comes to traveling. They can however, easily reap the benefits of efficient travel and achieve easy mobility with autonomous cars, handing over the control of the vehicle to advanced in-built sensor technologies, and never having to depend on any other means of transport.

Complete freedom for drivers. Studies suggest that more than 40 minutes are likely to be saved in every commute with self-driving cars. Drivers/passengers will no longer be subject to restrictions and will have the freedom to spend time as per individual preferences. Surveys depict that the amount of time saved during commute will generate massive revenue in the field of digital media, provided the passengers spend time on their mobile internet during the drive.

Potential issues that will obstruct the autonomous cars market growth

Over-dependence on sensor technology. How far can one rely on sensors? While automated technology is highly efficient and not subject to the laws governing human errors, it is still a man-made invention. The damage of even a single sensor will result in the entire system falling apart, leading to accidents and the loss of lives. Total reliability on sensors is not just dangerous, but can prove to be fatal, if an alternative mechanism to maneuver the vehicle does not exist.

Consumer trust. Consumers have to blindly rely on the efficiency of the technology that operates autonomous vehicles. In the event of even minor system failures, they are likely to stop using the vehicles immediately. Thus, trust appears to be the biggest setback faced by companies active in the autonomous cars market, which is evident from the survey results of many countries. For instance, more than 70% of consumers in Japan, U.S., and Germany believe that autonomous cars will be unsafe. In India and China, the consumers expressing doubts over the safety of these vehicles is over 60%.

Technology cost and car price. The amount of money that is spent on software and technology for autonomous cars is beyond belief. As with every technology-driven product, recovery costs via marketing and sales is a mandate, which makes it obvious that as of now, autonomous cars are way too expensive for laymen. Customers may not want to create a dent in their pockets for these vehicles, despite their numerous benefits. Apart from technology spending, autonomous cars need good roads, infrastructure, and communication systems, all of which will cost money. If and when implemented, the autonomous vehicle market will require private funding, regulatory reforms, tax policies, and other favorable government initiatives to ensure healthy market growth.

Traffic regulations. Will autonomous cars follow traffic regulations? Will they have licensing issues? Ideally, this problem should not surface at all, for these cars have no drivers and are completely equipped to handle traffic-related issues. However, some kind of vehicle registration might be necessary, given that implicit faith in technology is a sure no-no. In a world dominated by autonomous cars, which may be a reality in a few decades from now, the issues of safety, licensing, and regulations need to be prioritized. Regulatory reforms and government initiatives are also likely to propel the automotive electronics market, which finds extensive applications in the automotive safety systems industry, and is expected to register a CAGR of 8.4% over 2016-2023.

System hacking. Software applications and hacking go hand in hand. The extensive usage of software programs in autonomous cars provides convenient access for potential hackers. There have been records of cases when a driverless car has been hacked with the aim of harming the passenger, leaving her/him helpless and stranded. As per experts, there is no counter-strategy to avoid the hacking that might take place, and there is very little possibility for the passenger to rectify any errors at the opportune time.

What is the future of autonomous cars market?

Autonomous vehicles undoubtedly, have numerous advantages. One of their key benefits includes shared travel, which will clear up considerable parking space, leading to greener urban areas. Regular vehicles possibly contribute to more than 15% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Autonomous vehicles, however, will effectively combat global warming, owing to factors such as reduced pollution, lesser traffic jams, and reduced emission of greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, the costs for technological advancements, improved infrastructure, and software installation and maintenance are likely to restrict autonomous cars market growth. Autonomous cars bring about changing trends in the insurance sector, which would require auto insurers to implement changing business models. The adoption of these vehicles will also lead to changed dynamics in the car service industry, given the crucial nature of sensor-technologies.

The big leaders of auto industry have already invested heavily in the autonomous cars market segment. Tech magnates such as Apple and Google are not far behind either. In fact, Google's autonomous cars are already undergoing the testing phase in various locations across the U.S. As per a recent news report, Tesla has formalized a deal with UAE to bring fully-functional autonomous cars into Dubai, with a view to transform the city's transportation landscape. The agreement aims to convert more than one-fourth of Dubai's road journeys to driverless journeys by the year 2030.

The consensus regarding autonomous cars market is that these vehicles are highly efficient, beneficial, and will transform the automotive industry. They have their share of pros and cons, but there is still a long way to go before these vehicles make their way to the masses. Industry experts predict that more than 10% of the new cars sold up to the next decade are likely to be autonomous, provided most of the technological issues are sorted. To bring about this revolution, it is essential that the advantages outrun the disadvantages.

Saipriya Iyer is research content developer at Global Market Insights Inc. This article originally appeared on Global Market Insights' blog. Global Market Insights is a CFE Media contact partner. Edited by Carly Marchal, content specialist, CFE Media, cmarchal@cfemedia.com. 

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