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The Future of Autonomous Cars: Driverless cars are emerging but much work remains to achieve commercial success

The Future of Autonomous Cars: Driverless cars are emerging but much work remains to achieve commercial success

Summary

Heralded as the future of personalized transport, autonomous cars have caused much excitement among car companies, industry journalists and some segments of the public and government. Unquestionably major advances have been made but the future in which drivers are redundant remains some distance away.Despite the expected wait, a lot is changing. China is maneuvering to become the leading global player, catching up to rivals in the US. New infrastructure is being discussed and the regulatory environment is undergoing significant reform. Yet doubts remain as to how soon any promises made by car companies will materialize in a commercially viable form.

Key Highlights

  • Not only are cultural attitudes in China more conducive to the future of autonomy but the advantages claimed by driverless cars will be more acutely felt in the largest single car market than elsewhere. Progress is being helped by highly supportive government policies towards domestic manufacturers.
  • General Motors (GM) has emerged as a surprising leader in the race to create the first fully autonomous car that can be sold to the public. Unlike the lumbering old-fashioned car-maker that some critics remain wedded to, General Motors has taken a Silicon Valley tech start-up approach to the future of automotive manufacturing: making everything in house.
  • Autonomous cars are frequently advertised as being much safer than any human driver could be over a reasonable time span. Yet for the claims to be met in reality requires the needs of cyclists and pedestrians to be intimately involved with the decision-making computers contained within driverless vehicles.
Scope
  • Looks at the growing importance of China to autonomous transport
  • Examines the pace of development in autonomous vehicles
  • Assesses what infrastructure will be required in the future
  • Looks at the developing regulatory landscape
  • Assesses critics of advocates who claim autonomous cars are almost here
Reasons to buy
  • What role is China playing in autonomous cars?
  • How quick is autonomous technology advancing?
  • What new infrastructure will be required for the mass rollout of autonomous cars?
  • What is the state of regulations around the world?
  • Could the arrival of autonomous cars as a mass market product be a long way from happening?


Overview
Catalyst
Summary
China is coming force in autonomous vehicle technology
Chinese car market is best positioned to adopt autonomous future
Domestic companies are protected by foreign competition, enabling swift development
State will be vital early customer for autonomous vehicles, helping the Chinese market develop
Autonomous vehicle technology is advancing rapidly but is also over-hyped
In race to develop first saleable fully autonomous car, some surprising leaders and stragglers have emerged
Tesla is not impressing in autonomous vehicles, hurting long-term future of car disruptor
Waymo is leading the pack but is not without problems, raising doubts over publicly declared timelines
Established car manufacturing brands are involved but offer notes of caution
New infrastructure needed for potential of autonomous cars to be realized
So far autonomous cars have suggested major changes to roads are required
‘Smart roads’ offer glimpse of what autonomous car infrastructure will be like
Telecoms companies have vital role to play if autonomous cars to become what leading companies claim
‘Smart roads’ are essential for autonomous cars but funding redevelopment will be hard to achieve
State of regulatory systems is influencing autonomous car progress
High-profile accidents will engender regulators with caution in allowing fully autonomous vehicles on public roads
China is reforming regulation, allowing autonomous vehicles to be tested in real-world conditions
Competition to develop indigenous autonomous cars is being helped by regulatory reform
More workable US regulation with ambitions of advancing car makers is drawing nearer
Arrival of autonomous cars will take a while yet
Transition period likely to be lengthy due to replacement cycle timeline
Much time is needed to develop true autonomy even for major manufacturers
Early incarnations of truly autonomous cars are far too expensive for public use
Conclusions
An autonomous future looms for automotive industry
Appendix
Sources
Further Reading
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Disclaimer
List of Tables
Table 1: Road deaths in Asia 2013 - top ten worst number of deaths
List of Figures
Figure 1: Highest Selling SUVs in China, 2016 (000’s)
Figure 2: Baidu Driverless Vehicle Testing
Figure 3: Artists impression of fully autonomous Chevrolet Bolt
Figure 4: Mobileye advertising
Figure 5: Waymo test vehicle
Figure 6: Road paint recognizable by autonomous cars
Figure 7: 3M smart road signs
Figure 8: Smart Roads
Figure 9: Uber testing fatality
Figure 10: Congressman Bob Latta

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