Software updateability key to progress in car autonomy, says Gartner

November 20, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Gartner: Software progress drives autonomy of cars
By 2023, worldwide net additions of vehicles equipped with hardware that could enable autonomous driving without human supervision will reach 745,705 units, up from 137,129 units in 2018, says a recent release from market research and management consulting company Gartner, Inc. According to the experts, vehicle development has still quite a way to go to achieve comparable safety than human drivers.

The growth will predominantly come from North America, Greater China and Western Europe, as countries in these regions become the first to introduce regulations around autonomous driving technology.

Net additions represent the annual increase in the number of vehicles equipped with hardware for autonomous driving. They do not represent sales of physical units, but rather demonstrate the net change in vehicles that are autonomous-ready.

Today there are no autonomous vehicles in commercial operation on public streets, states Gartner principal research analyst Jonathan Davenport. All such vehicles are at the R&D stage “There are currently vehicles with limited autonomous capabilities, yet they still rely on the supervision of a human driver. However, many of these vehicles have hardware, including cameras, radar, and in some cases, lidar sensors, that could support full autonomy. With an over-the-air (OTA) software update, these vehicles could begin to operate at higher levels of autonomy, which is why we classify them as ‘autonomous-ready.”

While the growth forecast for autonomous-driving-capable vehicles is fast, net additions of autonomous commercial vehicles remain low in absolute terms when compared with equivalent consumer autonomous vehicle sales. The number of vehicles equipped with hardware that could enable autonomous driving without human supervision in the consumer segment are expected to reach 325,682 in 2020, while the commercial segment will see just 10,590 (see Table 1).

Today, there are no countries with active regulations that allow production-ready autonomous vehicles to operate legally, the release says. The market researcher regards this as a major roadblock to their development and use.

Another limiting factor is costs for sensor hardware. By 2026, the cost of the sensors needed to deliver autonomous driving functionality will be approximately 25% lower than they will be in 2020. Even with such a decline, these sensor arrays will still have prohibitively high costs. This means that through the next decade, advanced autonomous functionality will be available only on premium vehicles and vehicles sold to mobility service fleets.

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