The increasing prevalence of road accidents is fueling the demand for fully autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.35 million deaths are recorded every year because of road crashes. Furthermore, the organization also found that between 20 and 50 million more people suffer various non-fatal injuries due to road accidents. In the U.S., there were nearly 34,200 fatal vehicle crashes in 2017, which caused the deaths of around 37,000 people.
As the adoption of autonomous vehicles can greatly improve road safety and reduce the prevalence of road accidents, the increasing concerns being raised over vehicle safety are driving the sales of these vehicles across the world. Additionally, the governments of many countries, in response to the rising incidence of road accidents, are implementing favorable policies regarding the adoption of autonomous technologies in vehicles, which is also fueling the demand for autonomous vehicles. For instance, the U.S. Transportation Department has recently announced that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will no longer assume that commercial vehicles are operated by human drivers.
This decision was made for allowing trucks operated by autonomous driving systems to travel across different state lines in the country. Autonomous vehicles are equipped with advanced safety systems and technologies such as adaptive headlights, lane departure and forward collision warning systems, and sideview (blind spot) assist. Apart from improving the safety of the vehicle, autonomous technologies also significantly enhance the driving experience. Due to these factors, the popularity of autonomous vehicles is soaring, thereby causing the growth of the global autonomous vehicle market.
Currently, autonomous vehicles are classified, depending on the level of autonomy, into five levels, ranging from Level 0 to Level 5. While the autonomy levels ranging from 1 to 3 fall under semi-autonomous vehicle category, the vehicles having autonomy levels 4 and 5 are considered as fully autonomous. At present, level 3 is the highest level of autonomy integrated in vehicles. Both semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous vehicles are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as automatic parking, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.
Out of these, the demand for automatic emergency braking systems is predicted to rise at the fastest pace in the coming years, primarily because of the increasing enactment of policies by several governments that mandate the incorporation of automatic emergency braking systems in automobiles. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the U.S. has implemented a standard for mandating the adoption of automatic emergency braking systems in automobiles by 2022.
Geographically, the demand for autonomous vehicles was the highest in North America during the last few years, as per the observations of P&S Intelligence, a market research company based in India. This was due to the huge investments made in research and development (R&D) projects in autonomous technologies by leading technological innovators such as Aptiv PLC, Google LLC, and Microsoft Corporation, in the region. Moreover, these companies invested heavily in the testing and commercialization of autonomous vehicle technologies in the region.
Hence, it is safe to say that the deployment of autonomous vehicles will surge sharply in the upcoming years, mainly because of the growing incidence of road accidents and the increasing implementation of favorable government policies in several countries.