Report: Automated driving technology continues to progress
A report by Navigant Research, "Market Data: Automated Driving Vehicles, Global Consumer and Commercial Market Forecasts: 2018-2035," provides projections of the size of regional markets for consumer and commercial vehicles with highly automated driving capability. Global market sales and vehicle population projections for consumer vehicles under three different scenarios extend through 2035. The report also examines the breakdown by category for commercial vehicles with driving automation, separating medium and heavy-duty trucks and medium and heavy-duty buses.
The report says that automated driving technology continued to inch toward a commercial launch at scale throughout 2018. However, scale remains a relative term in the overall context of the automotive industry. As the companies developing this technology continue to grapple with the realities of reliable functionality in a broad range of real-world conditions, new questions continue to be raised about the robustness of the technology and the viability of different business models. Early 2018 saw the first fatality attributed directly to a failure of automated driving technology among other automated vehicle (AV)-related accidents.
The report says that despite those incidents, leading companies in the sector, including Waymo, General Motors, and several others, have continued to prepare for the commercial launch of geofenced automated mobility services using Level 4 highly automated vehicles (HAVs). Deployments will be limited to select cities in the early 2020s before expanding more rapidly later in the decade. Meanwhile, advanced driver-assistance systems are quickly becoming standard equipment on many high-volume mainstream models, and partially automated Level 2 systems are seeing wider rollouts. Level 3 conditionally automated systems have been announced but not yet made available, pending regulatory approvals likely to also affect the availability of Level 4 systems.
Pilot deployments of HAVs have expanded in the past year. One such program is the collaboration of Aptiv and Lyft, with Aptiv autonomous vehicles on the Lyft network becoming available to the general public in Las Vegas last May. This expanded upon a successful partnership between the two during CES 2018, when more than 400 self-driving rides were provided to the public.
Large-scale deployments began in 2018. Waymo launched its new Waymo One on-demand ride-hailing app in Phoenix in December, which followed its pilot program of a year and a half. The service is initially available to riders who already used the service in the pilot phase. The deployment is expected to be followed by an expansion into California in 2019. Waymo has also formed partnerships with businesses in Arizona to use its HAV fleet. General Motors plans to launch a commercial automated ride-hailing service in San Francisco in 2019. Ford recently announced an alliance with Volkswagen that includes working together on autonomous vehicles, while Toyota has invested in Uber as part of an autonomous vehicle partnership. These are just a few of the many alliances in the autonomous arena.
There is potential for significant societal benefits with autonomous vehicles such as improved safety, reduced congestion, greater adoption of electrification, and the ability to repurpose land currently set aside to park idle vehicles. Cities are actively investigating how to integrate automated vehicles into the mobility ecosystem to ensure equitable benefits and commercial viability for as many stakeholders as possible. Coordination will be needed to minimize downsides like increased empty vehicle miles traveled.