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

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.


– 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?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Overview 2

Catalyst 2

Summary 2

China is coming force in autonomous vehicle technology 7

Chinese car market is best positioned to adopt autonomous future 7

Domestic companies are protected by foreign competition, enabling swift development 8

State will be vital early customer for autonomous vehicles, helping the Chinese market develop 9

Autonomous vehicle technology is advancing rapidly but is also over-hyped 11

In race to develop first saleable fully autonomous car, some surprising leaders and stragglers have emerged 11

Tesla is not impressing in autonomous vehicles, hurting long-term future of car disruptor 12

Waymo is leading the pack but is not without problems, raising doubts over publicly declared timelines 13

Established car manufacturing brands are involved but offer notes of caution 14

New infrastructure needed for potential of autonomous cars to be realized 15

So far autonomous cars have suggested major changes to roads are required 15

”˜Smart roads’ offer glimpse of what autonomous car infrastructure will be like 16

Telecoms companies have vital role to play if autonomous cars to become what leading companies claim 16

”˜Smart roads’ are essential for autonomous cars but funding redevelopment will be hard to achieve 17

State of regulatory systems is influencing autonomous car progress 19

High-profile accidents will engender regulators with caution in allowing fully autonomous vehicles on public roads 19

China is reforming regulation, allowing autonomous vehicles to be tested in real-world conditions 20

Competition to develop indigenous autonomous cars is being helped by regulatory reform 20

More workable US regulation with ambitions of advancing car makers is drawing nearer20

Arrival of autonomous cars will take a while yet 22

Transition period likely to be lengthy due to replacement cycle timeline 22

Much time is needed to develop true autonomy even for major manufacturers 22

Early incarnations of truly autonomous cars are far too expensive for public use 22

Conclusions 24

An autonomous future looms for automotive industry 24

Appendix 25

Sources 25

Further Reading 25

Ask the analyst 26

About MarketLine 26

Disclaimer 26

List of Tables

List of Tables

Table 1: Road deaths in Asia 2013 – top ten worst number of deaths 7

List of Figures

List of Figures

Figure 1: Highest Selling SUVs in China, 2016 (000’s) 8

Figure 2: Baidu Driverless Vehicle Testing 9

Figure 3: Artists impression of fully autonomous Chevrolet Bolt 11

Figure 4: Mobileye advertising 12

Figure 5: Waymo test vehicle 13

Figure 6: Road paint recognizable by autonomous cars 15

Figure 7: 3M smart road signs 16

Figure 8: Smart Roads 17

Figure 9: Uber testing fatality 19

Figure 10: Congressman Bob Latta 21


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