The gradual introduction of many interconnected technologies will make the transition to fully self-managed vehicles possible. For now, however, the production of such vehicles remains a goal for the future rather than the reality of the coming years. Despite the huge investments in development, automation will be gradually introduced in cars.
However, even the first steps in this direction can improve the safety and efficiency of vehicle operation, so that automation to some extent will be found in new models more and more often. According to the forecast of IDC, the number of vehicles that can operate at least with a basic level of autonomy will increase from 31.4 million in 2019 to 54.2 million in 2024, which corresponds to an average annual growth of 11.5%.
The industry definition of the autonomy level is given in SAE J3016. It can be summarized as follows:
- SAE Level 0 – no automation: all dynamic driving tasks are performed by human drivers;
- SAE Level 1 – Driver Assistance: autonomous driving functions can help in a situation, providing either active steering or braking or acceleration in certain dynamic driving tasks. The driver remains responsible for driving the vehicle and all other driving related functions;
- SAE Level 2 – Partial Driving Automation: Stand-alone driving functions can help by providing both active steering and braking or acceleration support in specific Dynamic Driving tasks. The driver is expected to remain attentive, monitor the situation and be responsible for all other dynamic functions;
- SAE Level 3 – conditional automation: An autonomous driving system (ADS) will perform all dynamic driving tasks in place of the driver under certain environmental and road conditions. The driver must always remain ready to intervene and take control of the vehicle if ADS deems such a request necessary;
- SAE Level 4 is a high degree of automation: when enabled, the ADS can perform all dynamic driving tasks under certain environmental and road conditions (often referred to as the system design work area). No driver presence or attention is required;
- SAE Level 5 – Full Driving Automation: When activated, the ADS can perform all dynamic driving tasks autonomously in all combinations of road surface and environment. No driver’s presence or attention is required.
Although fully hand-held vehicles with driver (SAE Level 0) currently form the majority, their share of production during the forecast period will decrease. Advances in technology, government regulation and consumer interest will result in vehicles with some degree of automation (SAE Level 1-5) accounting for more than 50% of all vehicles manufactured by 2024.
In this case, the largest categories will be vehicles capable of autonomy levels SAE Level 1 and 2. Since, when using these technologies, drivers must remain vigilant and exercise full operational control, their implementation is associated with the most acceptable level of risk and responsibility – both for vehicle manufacturers and for government regulatory bodies.
The supply of SAE Level 3 vehicles will also increase, but this segment will be relatively small. As for fully self-managed vehicles with SAE Level 4 and 5 support, they will remain an ambitious goal. The development and implementation of these vehicles requires significant progress in technology, customer availability and trust, as well as government regulation. IDC expects that the total production of SAE Level 3 and 4 vehicles will exceed 850,000 units by 2024, but the appearance of SAE Level 5 vehicles on the market during the predicted period cannot be expected.