decarbonization

Autonomous
Vehicles

A Brief Knowhow on the Future of Mobility

Many of us must have seen or heard about driverless cars roaming around in the streets. Several of us may have also got the opportunity to travel in self-driving taxis, especially the Waymo taxis, which was also earlier known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project. Many of us might have thought of how the engineers of Google X lab of Google developed the self-driving technology. Research Nester portrays a brief on what exactly are autonomous vehicles and how is it going to be the future of mobility.


What is an Autonomous Vehicle?

An autonomous vehicle is any vehicle that do not need the assistance of any driver. These vehicles are also popularly known as self-driving vehicles or driverless vehicles. These vehicles use advanced sensors in combination with technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), and supporting software for its functioning. However, the level of automation in these vehicles vary, and are usually identified into 6 levels, as described by The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). These levels have been accepted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and range from Level 0 (fully manual) to Level 5 (fully autonomous). Here is a glimpse of the 6 different levels (see Figure 1) -

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Autonomous Vehicles Technology

Artificial intelligence drives autonomous vehicle systems. These vehicles use the data collected from sensors combined with machine learning and neural networks to perform deep learning that helps them navigate complex roadways. The cameras and sensors work in tandem as the human eyes and brain.

Radar Sensors Self-driving vehicles are equipped with ADAS radar systems that work with camera sensors at night or whenever there is poor visibility. They detect the speed and location of objects by sending pulses of radio waves.

LiDAR Sensors LiDAR sensors calculate the distance of objects by sending out pulses of light that bounce off an object and return back, providing a richer 3D visual representation of the surroundings, with more details about the shape and depth of the objects. For instance, Google's self-driving car uses a combination of sensors, lidar, and cameras to collect data about the condition of the roads and the objects around the vehicle. By driving more, these autonomous vehicles sharpen their deep-learning algorithms and acquire quick critical decision-making abilities.


Benefits of Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles have immense potential to make our lives better. Here is a glimpse of what these autonomous cars have to offer (see Figure 2) -

  • Reduce Congestion on Roads and Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Autonomous vehicles are expected to reduce traffic congestion by more than 35%, thereby cutting down on commuting times and freeing up parking spaces. Along with bringing down transportation costs by 42%, they are anticipated to curb CO2 emissions by 81%.
  • Allow Drivers and Truckers to Use Auto-pilot Over Long Distances – Self-driving trucks have been tested in the U.S. and Europe to be driven on autopilot when their drivers are tired or sleepy, ensuring their safety. This method of truck platooning uses collision avoidance systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communications to reduce congestion on roads and improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles.
  • Reduce Frequency of Road Accidents and Enhance Safety- The U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were over 35000 deaths due to road accidents in 2017. As per the NHTSA, around 93% of fatalities were due to human error or drunk driving. Autonomous vehicles uphold road safety by reducing accidents.
  • Increase Economic Benefits – Injuries could result in losses of between USD 58 billion to USD 580 billion due to reduced workplace productivity and quality of life, according to the NHTSA. Autonomous vehicles can protect the economy from incurring such huge losses.
  • Improve Comfort and Convenience – Autonomous vehicles can help the physically disabled and older population get around easily.
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Challenges Facing the

Autonomous Vehicles Industry

  • Safety Concerns- The use of faulty sensors and cameras may result in accidents and losses. Autonomous vehicles are vulnerable to mechanical issues. Some automotive sensors may not allow clear visibility during fog or snow. With the growth of this technology, human drivers may become complacent and rely heavily on autopilot technology, even when they are supposed to be cautious and ready to take over the driving in case of software failures or mechanical issues.
  • Legal Issues- When accidents do occur, there won’t be any clarity on who is responsible for them - the vehicle manufacturer or the human passenger. New regulations and standards will have to be set once autonomous vehicles become accessible to the general public.
  • Different Regulations in Different Parts of the World – It is extremely challenging for car manufacturers to produce vehicles that meet the requirements and rules of different places.
  • Cyber Security - Autonomous vehicles are vulnerable to cyberattacks, making cybersecurity a worrisome issue.
  • Road Structures That Interfere with the GPS – Tunnels and new construction may hamper the vehicles ability to navigate. Sudden lane changes and diversions may confuse and impair their quick decision-making abilities.

But, why is There a Need for Autonomous Vehicles?

Recently, the concern worldwide for the number of vehicular fatalities have grown massively. For instance, 1.35 million people were known to die each year on roadways as per the statistics by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The statistics also stated that everyday 3700 people were killed globally owing to crashes occurring from trucks, buses, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, or pedestrians. (see Figure 3). As a result, the need for autonomous vehicles which require zero to minimal human intervention can help lower the risk of these fatality cases.

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On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic, which shook the world like a storm, took several lives, and had also raised the need among individuals to adopt social distancing norms and refrain themselves from physical human interaction. As a result, transit ridership too went for a toss and witnessed a steep decline in several of the developed countries globally. For instance, in the whole of United States, weekly ridership during the 1st week of March 2020 and the 4th week of the same month witnessed steep decline from about 183 million to 45 million, the period when COVID-19 cases also grew from 4 on 1st of March 2020 to 26161 on 31st March 2020, as per the statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO). This concern has raised the need for the introduction of transit mediums wherein human interaction is minimal, thereby introducing self-driving taxis, such as Waymo.


How Businesses Can Take the

Opportunities of Autonomous Vehicles?

Research Nester finds that business organizations can take the opportunities associated with autonomous vehicles by adopting several of the initiatives laid down by several regulatory bodies, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Underwriters Laboratories, British Standards Institution (BSI), Association for Standardization of Automation and Measuring Systems (ASAM), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and others. In addition to this, businesses can collaborate with the government of countries globally and form associations to take the opportunity benefit.

Research Nester analysis stated that the market for autonomous vehicles worldwide was valued at nearly USD 38 billion in 2022. It has been projected to grow at a steady CAGR of ~11% during 2023-2035 to reach beyond USD 79 billion by the end of 2035. Some of the major players in the market are Autoliv Inc. (Stockholm, Sweden), Aptiv (Dublin, Ireland), Daimler AG (Stuttgart, Germany), Baidu (Beijing, China), AutoX, Inc. (California, US), HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP (Seoul, South Korea), Volvo (Gothenburg, Sweden), and others. Some of the markets associated with autonomous vehicles are (see Figure 4):

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