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Manufacturing of Autonomous Vehicles Accelerating Industrial Mobility

Manufacturing of Autonomous Vehicles Accelerating Industrial Mobility

Automotive | Mar, 2021

Autonomous vehicles have opened a new era of mobility by automating how things and people move. While automobile manufacturers are yet to develop fully driverless autonomous vehicles, they seem nearly visible on the horizon with continuous advancement in research and development in autonomous vehicle technologies. Artificial intelligence, computer vision, and edge computing capabilities are resulting in machines that can potentially think, see, hear, and move without human intervention. With right trade-offs and strategic alliances, original equipment manufacturers have a chance to keep up in the race of autonomous mobility. Mass production of autonomous vehicles is not limited to developing prototyping software, but about having full validation and verification, both virtually and physically, of the vehicle itself.

How do autonomous cars work?

Autonomous vehicles (AV) have the capability to sense its surroundings and navigate without requiring a human to drive the vehicle. Each autonomous vehicle is embedded with a GPS unit, inertial navigation system and sensors. AVs use the GPS to gather positioning information, inertial navigation to localize itself and retrieve data from sensors to refine its position estimate as well as build a 3-D image of the vehicle surroundings. The control system of the vehicle subsequently uses the sensor data to make navigation decisions for the vehicle mobility. Majority of the autonomous vehicle control systems implement a deliberative architecture meaning

-they can make smart and intelligent decisions

-they use map to find optimal path to destination without any obstacles

After the vehicle determines the best path to reach destination, the command is fed to the vehicle’s actuators to control vehicle steering, braking, and throttle. The whole process is repeated multiple times each second on powerful on-board processors until the vehicle successfully moves to the desired position.

In order to operate safely, autonomous cars must take into account surrounding objects, other vehicles, pedestrians, contours of the road and everything that a human driver would consider while driving a vehicle. The autonomous vehicles use the following technologies to see.

·         Radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR)

RADAR works by sending out radio waves that bounce off distant surfaces and informs adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. The RADAR technology can see objects hundreds of yards in the distance along with detecting their size and speeds.

·         Light Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)

LIDAR works by firing millions of laser points per second, which are then reflected off object surfaces and returned to the receiver. LIDER creates a three-dimensional model of the car’s surroundings and scan the environment to measure shape, size, and distance of surrounding objects. Unlike RADAR, LIDAR can see the objects in high resolution, allowing the vehicle control system to make intelligent decisions.

·         Cameras

Autonomous vehicles use the camera technology to see nearby surroundings in high-resolution. Lenses placed around self-driving cars provide wide-angle views of close-up surroundings and longer, narrower views of what’s ahead of the vehicle to get an accurate picture.

According to TechSci research report on “Global Semi& Fully Autonomous Vehicle Market By Automation Level (Level 0, Level 1 & Others), By Component (Embedded Systems, Cameras & Others), By Vehicle Type, By Region, Competition Forecast & Opportunities, 2016–2030”, Global semi and autonomous market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 21% during the forecast period and reach a market value of USD64 billion by 2030. The growth can be attributed to factors such as introduction of new technology for developing driverless vehicles and foray of technological giants such as Goole and Intel in autonomous vehicle market.

Autonomous Vehicle Benefits

·         Reduces Accident Risks

As per WHO statistics, approx. 1.35 million people lose their lives due to road traffic crashes and 93% of the road fatalities occur in low-and middle-income countries, which comprise approx. 60% of the world’s vehicles. Not only road traffic injuries result in loss of lives, but road traffic injuries also cause considerable economic losses to individuals, families, and nation, accounting for almost 3% of the Gross Domestic Product. The autonomous vehicle technology can dramatically reduce the frequency of crashes and reduce the risk of fatalities. Nearly a third of road accidents can be prevented if all the vehicles have forward collision and lane departure warning systems, sideview assist, adaptive headlights, and automatic braking. Technologies that permit level 4 of automation would further reduce car crashes statistics across the globe.

·         Enhanced Mobility

The autonomous vehicle technology increase mobility for those who are unable to unwilling to drive the conventional cars. Level 4 automation in automated vehicles would enable transportation for the disabled, blind, and those too young to drive. Autonomous vehicle will enable passengers to perform work tasks or simply spend travel time relaxing as the vehicles’ autonomous features safely navigate the road network. AV technology can also reduce congestion since occupants could undertake other activities. The autonomous vehicle technology can enable increased throughput on roads with more efficient vehicle operations and reduced delays from crashes.

·         Energy Efficiency

The overall effect of automated vehicle technology is likely to decrease energy use and pollution, thereby improving fuel economy by 4-10 percent, accelerating, and decelerating the vehicles more smoothly. Closely spaced autonomous vehicles that stops or slows down less enable lower peak speeds and higher effective speeds. The AV technology will further help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution by replacing alternative fuels. Additionally, reduced incidences of car accidents would result in less spills of toxic substances and less congestion on the roads leads fresher air through gained flow efficiency.

·         Consumer Benefits

Driving vehicles can be a strenuous task especially if it involves great number of hours every day. With AV technology, the driver can enjoy the travel time by not having to give much focus on driving as the vehicle does most of the risqué job. Thus, autonomous vehicles, in a way, reduces stress and enhances mental health. With advanced safety features, one can expect a significant cost reduction in auto insurance and save a lot of cost on maintenance. Enhanced road safety, cleaner air, less stress, shorter time to reach destinations, and improved productivity could translate into a better quality of life.

United States Market Leader in Global Autonomous Vehicle Market

In January 2016, President Barack Obama announced USD4 billion investment to boost the development and adoption of fully autonomous vehicles, realizing their public and consumer benefits for reducing congestion and improving road safety. The initiative also aimed to improve US transportation system, Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication and avoid obstacles through better awareness of surrounding environment. With growing willingness to purchase safer and efficient vehicles, autonomous vehicles have experienced a major growth in United States from 2014 onward. The United States autonomous car market is dominated by conditional automation (Level 3), which allows vehicle control systems to perform all dynamic driving tasks, including steering, braking, accelerating, and monitoring vehicles along with allowing drivers to respond appropriately to the request to intervene. Audi 8 was the first automobile company to launch the level 3 autonomous vehicles deploying cameras, RADAR, and navigation systems. Some of the major automobile companies dominating in the United States automobile market are Apple Inc., Waymo LLC, Tesla Inc., Ford Motor Company, Honda Motor Company, BMW, Nissan, Intel Corporation, Uber Technologies Inc. among others. Here are some of the driving factors fuelling the global autonomous vehicle market growth.

·         Innovation-Friendly Environment

In United States, a wide range of innovators have the ability to freely develop and test their software and hardware technologies across a broad array of operating environment. The healthy competition between industrial manufacturers and technology innovators is leading to a new paradigm in personal and commercial transportation. The developed infrastructure of the company enables automobile makers to test their vehicles in controlled environments for actual deployment of Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous cars. Waymo LLC, a market leader in autonomous vehicles, used Phoenix, Arizona, as the site for testing Waymo One, a self-driving taxi service to discern how autonomous a certain vehicle is, ranging from a driver-assistance one, to a fully autonomous level five.

·         NHTSA’s Regulatory Role

The Federal government sets safety standards for vehicles sold in United States to ensure that the vehicle meets a common safety benchmark for operation in the country. NHTSA holds manufacturers to safety standards while allowing them to quickly introduce new models to the market every year. NHTSA has embraced the promise of autonomous vehicle, taking into consideration the safety benefits resulting from automated operation. NHTSA is willing to interpret safety rules and regulations in a way that allows for innovation and flexibility to extent authorised by law.

·         Introduction of modern automation technologies

The humongous competition among automobile manufacturers have led to high investments in R&D activities for developing new innovative technologies. Continuous improvement in computer processing power, artificial intelligence and growing network of smart devices have created an ecosystem that have evolved elements of autonomous vehicles. For instance, Uber began operating Level-3 self-driving vehicles in limited number of US cities. In recent months, there have been four announced acquisitions amounting to nearly USD70 billion for technology suppliers with strong competitive positions in autonomous driving market to accelerate the pace of development. Ford Motors is planning to invest USD22 billion on electric vehicles and USD7 billion on autonomous vehicles amid increasing pressure by governments to reduce carbon emissions.

·         Government Initiatives

US President Joe Biden has recently proposed a new USD2 trillion “master plan” to revive economy, interlocking spheres of automobiles, transportation, and energy sector. The investment is directed towards the development of smart highways that improve safety and accelerate autonomous driving, increase mass transit, infrastructural development, and return to higher fuel economy standards.  

Future of Autonomous Vehicles in India

By 2030, 25% of all cars plying on global roads will constitute 25% of self-driving cars. Currently many tech companies like Google, Tesla, Mercedes, Nissan and so on are leading the efforts of leveraging the latest technologies to experiment with self-driving. Indian automotive market is one of the largest automotive industries in the world. Autonomous vehicle market is projected to be a multi-trillion industry, but India is currently showing no signs of adopting the future tech.

According to TechSci research report on “Global Semi & Fully Autonomous Truck Market By ADAS Feature (ACC; AEB; BSD; IPA & LA), By Automation Level (Level 0; Level 1; Level 2; Level 3 & Level 4/5), By Component (Embedded System; Camera; Radars; Lidars & Others), By Fuel Type (Diesel; Petrol/Gasoline; CNG and Electric & Hybrid), By Application (Logistics; Mining & Construction), By Region, Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2024”, global semi & fully autonomous market is projected to grow at a  double-digit CAGR by 2024, owing to factors such as introduction of autonomous truck with assistance of ADAS features and norms pertaining to secure and safe transportation in various developing economies.