Autonomous Vehicle Growth Propelled by US, China, Report Finds

The US and the island nation of Singapore are expected to take the lead in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles, according to a July 2 report from IT research firm Juniper.

The study predicted that by the end of 2026, there would be more than 50 million self-driving cars, trucks and other types of vehicles hitting the road, with more than a fifth of the total cruising across the US, and 15 million in the Far East and China.

The report, “Autonomous Vehicles & ADAS: Market Trends 2018-2026,” also predicted a unique confluence of societal shifts, smart city mobility concepts and connected infrastructure would help support and drive AV sales.

After the US and Singapore, the countries rounding out the top five are Japan, the UK and South Korea, followed by the Netherlands, Malaysia, India, China and France.

The report indicated that the US and China would be the key regions to watch as new policies and guidelines for autonomous vehicles flourish, with the two countries alone accounting for nearly two thirds of AVs sold worldwide next year.

In total the research firm analyzed 20 countries, grading them on their readiness for autonomous vehicles and taking into consideration participation of local technology firms, regulatory policies, operational trials and the capabilities of the digital and city infrastructure currently in place.

Juniper researchers also looked at each nation’s perceived enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles and the likelihood of autonomous vehicles operating in the country.

Lawmakers across the US have so far been falling over themselves to lure businesses developing AV technologies to their states– despite the persistent fears consumers have about the safety of self-driving cars.

“The US has all the key ingredients for autonomous vehicles to operate at scale,” Michael Larner, the report’s author, noted in a statement. “Federal and local authorities supporting AV trials, Silicon Valley and universities spawn firms that can deliver the technology, many local competitors are introducing driverless technologies plus the car remains vital for commuting and leisure travel.”

Millennials and the generation coming up behind them are eschewing outright car ownership in place of mobility-as-a-service concepts such as ride sharing and ride hailing, where AV technologies are applicable.

In addition, driving safety benefits and the establishment of underlying vehicle-to-anything (V2X) communications critical to successful AV platforms, have spurred additional interest in self-driving vehicles.

Juniper expects market adoption of AV technologies to accelerate in the near future, driven by major investments from legacy automotive OEMs such as Volvo, Audi, Daimler and GM, who are repositioning themselves as mobility services firms.

Competition from the likes of Google, whose focus has been on entirely driverless vehicles through its Waymo division, is also expected to be a major driver of AV market growth.

Juniper also predicted OEMs would incrementally add driverless technologies to newer vehicle models, pegging 2019 as a milestone year with some major automakers offering cars with truly advanced levels of autonomy.

A May report from Juniper predicted sales of fully autonomous vehicles in the US would rise over the next eight years, reaching 5 million by 2026.

Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209.

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