The 451 Take
Self-driving cars are under active development by all major OEMs, and consumer comfort with the technology is growing at pace for their eventual arrival. There are still concerns about the safety of the technology compared to human drivers; however, the rapid integration of passive and active driver assistance features into current cars will serve to acclimate drivers to partial, and eventually full, autonomy.
The idea of cars that drive themselves was the realm of science fiction not many years ago, but a confluence of recent technology advancements has made this fiction a reality. These include:
- New 'drive by wire' architectures that replace traditional mechanical linkages with sensors and actuators
- Increasingly powerful and inexpensive sensor technology (radar, ultrasound, LiDAR (light detection and ranging))
- Video analytics, to identify pedestrians, traffic and construction personnel, as well as street signs
- High-speed computers that can perform 'sensor fusion' to integrate sensor inputs with high-definition 3-D maps to create a picture of the environment surrounding the automobile
- Sophisticated AI systems that assimilate these models to robotically control the vehicle
The Society of Automotive Engineers has a widely used taxonomy of advanced driver-assistance systems (such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping), progressing to full autonomy where no human driver intervention is required during the entire journey. This scale progresses from Level 0 (no automation) to Level 5 (full automation), depending on the degree that the human is involved in the driving process. The majority of consumers surveyed by 451 Research indicated they believe that full self-driving (Level 5) would be available for purchase within the next five years or earlier.
While it will take a decade or more before your next Uber shows up without a driver, steering wheel or pedals, partial autonomy (ADAS) is finding its way as a standard and a feature that is increasingly legally mandated for new consumer automobiles. Just as seatbelts, airbags and now backup cameras have become mandatory equipment, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, self-parking and adaptive cruise control are becoming commonplace in nearly all new automobiles.
There are two categories of ADAS, passive and active. Some of these systems merely alert the driver to potential safety issues (passive), where others control the vehicle to avoid or minimize damage from these incidents. Previous safety systems incorporated into vehicles have had demonstrable benefit, as evidenced by the sharp decrease in the rate of crash deaths in the US since the introduction of airbags and the legal mandate of seat belts, with fatalities dropping by nearly half per 100,000 population in the last 40 years.
Advanced driver-assistance systems
|Passive ADAS||Active ADAS|
|Cruise Control||Adaptive Cruise Control|
|Forward Collision Warning||Automatic Emergency Braking|
|Side Collision Warning||Active Suspension System|
|Lane-departure Warning||Automatic Lane Keeping|
|Mirror-Sensor/Blind-Spot Detection||Intersection Assist (Audi)|
Perhaps one of the key insights of the driver survey was the combination of two data points. When asked if self-driving vehicles would be safer than human-driven vehicles, nearly 62% of respondents thought autonomous vehicles would be somewhat or significantly safer. Just more than half of the same drivers stated they would probably or definitely ride in a fully autonomous vehicle.
Unfortunately, only 15.3% of drivers indicated that they would be comfortable 'driving' a self-driving vehicle, even though the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 90% of all traffic accidents are the result of human decisions and errors, and not mechanical failure.
David Immerman is an Associate Analyst in 451 Research’s Internet of Things (IoT) Channel. He covers the smart transportation space and its various segments, including but not limited to fleet management, telematics, connected cars and autonomous vehicles.
Jessica is a Research Data Analyst working across 451 Research’s Voice of the Connected User Landscape (VoCUL) products, providing insight into buying behavior and preferences for high tech consumer products. Jessica produces quarterly Advisory reports and Spotlights for clients across IT spending, Business Trends, Media and Communications, Wearables, Mobile Phones, Tablets, and Laptop markets. She focuses on attitudes, behaviors, and use across consumer and business technology markets.
As Research Vice President of 451 Research's Internet of Things practice, Christian Renaud covers the ongoing virtualization and digitization of the physical world around us. For 25 years prior to joining 451 Research, Christian built nationwide networks at large and small enterprises, worked with Fortune 50 companies in the systems integrator channel, built products at Cisco Systems and ran the company's New Markets and Technologies team.