Artificial Intelligence

Will autonomous driving shape the future of the mobility sector?

3rd December 2019
Lanna Cooper

Autonomous driving is shifting the existing automotive supply chain from the traditional system of OEMs and suppliers to a collaborative ecosystem comprising OEMs, mobility service providers, software and hardware solution providers, and infrastructure providers. We have recently seen competitors joining hands and forming some unlikely-sounding alliances to reduce the cost of autonomous driving development, as well as to share resources and capabilities.

In July 2019, BMW Group signed a long term strategic cooperation with rival company, Daimler that begins with brining Level 4 capability to market in the mid-2020s. The long term collaboration aims to extend to encompass a scalable platform for autonomous driving where they can share components, validation efforts and other competencies.

Autonomous driving technologies have the potential to disrupt our future mobility mode. Autonomous cars could liberate people from the driving tasks and enhance road safety and efficiency. Autonomous driving will also improve travel convenience for those who are unable to drive.

On the other hand, autonomous driving would accelerate the arrival of peak car, in other words, the end of mass private-car ownership. Auto OEMs are changing their business models from just car manufacturers to mobility service providers to capture more profit.

Geely, for example, claims that by 2025, 1/3 of all Volvo cars will be autonomous and they will become not only the car manufacturer, but also the mobility service provider. Mobility services enabled by autonomous driving technologies, which allows fleet operators to get rid of the biggest operation cost - the human driver - will offer a cheaper alternative to purchasing and owning a private car.

In the next two decades, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) will grow rapidly to meet the increasing travel demand and in the mean time gradually replace private driving, according to IDTechEx’s latest report titled 'Autonomous Cars and Robotaxis 2020-2040'. IDTechEx forecasts that in a moderate scenario, shared autonomous cars could account for up to four trillion miles travelled on the road - about 30% of the total travel demand - by 2040, and global passenger car sales are expected to peak in 2031.

Autonomous driving requires a full technology stack of hardware such as sensors and computing platforms, as well as non-hardware components including AI software and HD maps which are completely different from the traditional automotive approach. IDTechex’s new report offers an in-depth analysis of key enabling technologies including lidars, radars, cameras, AI software, HD maps, teleoperation, cyber security, and 5G and V2X.

IDTechEx forecasts that the autonomous driving system market (the hardware and software that make the cars to drive themselves) will be over $170m annually by 2040. The revenue from the sales of autonomous cars (SAE Level 3+) as well as mobility services provided will be worth $2.5tn annually by 2040.

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