Self-driving cars, known as autonomous vehicles, will rise from 4 percent of the global market in 2020 to 41 percent in 2030 and 75 percent in 2035, says a new report from Navigant Research.
“Automated driving has the potential to make roads safer and reduce the large portion of accidents that are caused by driver error,” the report says. Combinations of advanced driver assistance features, such as adaptive speed control, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning, are already being brought together in some 2014 models, resulting in semi-autonomous driving in some markets.
Automakers will see autonomous driving as a way to distinguish their brands. High-tech manufacturers, such as Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes, will push to be the first.
The change will likely be gradual, says David Alexander, senior research analyst with Navigant. “The first features will most likely be self-parking, traffic jam assistance and freeway cruising.” The driver will become more like an airplane pilot, the report says.
Several obstacles remain. Some states require that all vehicles have a driver in control at all times. And who would be at fault in an accident? “Automakers will be reluctant to assume responsibility for not only supplying the vehicles, but also safety operating them,” the company says.