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1 CAVs in different regions

(See also Ownership model)

Private companies working in automated technology are attracting record levels of deals and funding, from startups, venture capitalists and large companies. As of May 2017, there were 44 organisations working on AVs

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Source: The State of Auto Tech, CB Insights, 2017


University research is also leading the way in AV development, for example, Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan. AV testing centres are being created to support the development of AVs, like the MUEAVI facility at Cranfield University. This facility will have a mile of shared surface, fully functioning roadway and pedestrian access through the centre of the campus, enabling testing to be completely self-contained.

2 Factors affecting take-up of technology

(See also: Cost, Pricing & Market)

There are a number of potential barriers to the take-up of technology:

Infrastructure: If AVs need specific infrastructure characteristics to communicate with approaching vehicles and behave in a reliable manner, existing infrastructure will need to be maintained and updated. This could involve clear road markings, clear and visible signs, good state of roadways and reconfiguration of traffic signals. This can pose a significant funding barrier for local authorities that may be struggling to maintain their roads.

Cost of vehicles: With current development trends, fully AVs are believed to be more than a decade away. The cost of the hardware in terms of computational power and sensors appears likely to go on falling. The price of Lidar is claimed to have reduced to under $500, and a system potentially capable of full autonomy (with roughly a dozen sensors) would cost $10,000. From a commercialisation perspective, it will be a matter of understanding what the optimal number of sensors would be for a fully automated vehicle (Source: When will the robots hit the road? McKinsey & Company, 2017).

Policy and planning: Policymakers and planners play a key role in examining the potential impact of AVs on the transport network and how these will help or hinder achieving their goals on air quality, land use and accessibility. The more their long-term plans accommodate the data and physical infrastructure needs of AVs, the greater the facilitation of their introduction will be.

There are also factors that will support the take-up of the technology:

Congestion and parking difficulties. The advantages of CAVs over conventional vehicles will be greater when congestion and parking constraints make reduce the "pleasure" of driving. Under congested conditions letting the car drive itself will eliminate some frustration and allow the user to perform other activities while travelling.

Policies supporting CAVs on safety grounds. Some countries and cities may adopt policies that support CAVs in order to reap the benefits of fewer accidents. These policies may involve preferential tax, lower tolls and parking rates or even access to exclusive lanes.

Expensive insurance for human driving. It is likely that insurance will revert to the vehicle and as such to the manufacturer. In this case, those wishing to continue driving will be required to purchase car insurance thus adding to the cost of motoring.

3 Differences in policies and plans

(See also: Existing AV regulations)

In the US, 39 states and the District of Columbia have proposed or enacted a variety of AV policies. 13 states have enacted AV legislation (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah as well as the District of Columbia). 26 others introduced legislation that either did not pass or is still pending as of April 2017. (Source; Beyond Speculation, Automated Vehicles and Public Policy, ENO Center for Transportation, 2017).

Recently, Michigan passed the most comprehensive legislation that allows for testing on public roads without a driver, truck platooning and legalised self-driving ridesharing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy in 2016. It represents the first step in creating a federal AV policy.There are other attempts to harmonise regulations outside the US. The United Nations is updating the Road Trafficking code and Australia's National Transportation Commission has published national guidelines.

4 Regional differences

The rate of CAV adoption even within a country will vary by region. Dense and large urban areas provide greater advantages to CAVs than low density and small cities and towns, therefore, they are more likely to be adopted first in major cities. Something similar happened when car replaced horse-drawn cabs and other vehicles. Horse traction survived much longer in rural areas but disappeared very quickly in large cities.

5 International differences

Different countries will develop different approaches to manage the deployment of CAVs. Some may favour their use as MaaS whereas others may be indifferent to the mode of use. The advantages of the new technology may be tempered by difficulties in providing sufficient support in terms of infrastructure and policy measures. Moreover, the advantages of a driver-less vehicle would not be so apparent in locations where the cost of labour is lower than in North America or Europe.