The race of com­mer­cial au­ton­o­mous cars

Finweek English Edition - - IN BRIEF -

Car­mak­ers are in a race to launch the first com­mer­cial au­ton­o­mous c a r s , wit h com­pa­nies in­clud­ing BMW, Tesla, GM and Nis­san busy testing var­i­ous au­ton­o­mous drive tech­nolo­gies. Volvo’s f irst self-driv­ing test cars are al­ready on the road in Gothen­burg, as part of an ini­tia­tive with the Swedish gov­ern­ment, while Nis­san, whose au­ton­o­mous drive tech­nol­ogy has been tested on public roads in Ja­pan, is plan­ning the com­mer­cial launch of a model with traf­fic jam au­topi­lot late next year

Tesla, founded by Pre­to­ria-born bil­lion­aire Elon Musk, may be the first car­maker to roll out mod­els ca­pa­ble of hands-free driv­ing (of­fer­ing sin­gle-lane high­way au­topi­lot) by the mid­dle of the year, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group (BCG).

“The auto in­dus­try is at its most sig­nif­i­cant inf lec­tion in a cen­tury,” said Xavier Mos­quet, a se­nior part­ner and man­ag­ing direc­tor in BCG’s Detroit off ice, in a state­ment. “Self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles will hit the road sooner than many peo­ple re­alise. And although the jour­ney to mar­ket ma­tu­rity will take 20 years or more, it’s not too soon for auto ex­ec­u­tives, reg­u­la­tors, and all play­ers in the trans­porta­tion and tech spheres to start pre­par­ing for the sweep­ing changes on the hori­zon.”

By 2017, au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles (AVs) ca­pa­ble of traff ic jam au­topi­lot and au­ton­o­mous valet park­ing should be on dealer’s lots, fol­lowed by high­way au­topi­lot with lane chang­ing in 2018, BCG said. Ve­hi­cles ca­pa­ble of ur­ban au­topi­lot could be ready in 2022, paving the way for fully au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles by 2025, it said. Mercedes is one of the car­mak­ers that ex­pects to de­but its first fully au­ton­o­mous model in 2025.

De­vel­op­ing sen­sor tech­nol­ogy and in­te­gra­tion soft­ware – which is ex­pected to cost around $1bn (R11.9bn) per orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­turer (OEM) – will be one chal­lenge. Ve­hi­cles will also have to be made se­cure from cy­ber­at­tack, un­cer­tainty over li­a­bil­ity must be re­solved, so­cial re­sis­tance over­come and high-pre­ci­sion maps de­vel­oped, BCG said.

Should car­mak­ers be suc­cess­ful in over­com­ing th­ese chal­lenges, a huge mar­ket op­por­tu­nity awaits. The BCG study found more than 50% of con­sumers would likely buy a par­tially self-driv­ing car, while more than 40% would buy a fully self-driv­ing ve­hi­cle. Of the sur­vey re­spon­dents, 14% said they would be will­ing to pay $5 000 (R60 100) ex­tra for high­way au­topi­lot func­tion­al­ity alone.

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