Driverless Car Price Tags At Least $100K By 2022

Costs of sensor arrays for autonomous vehicles will still see car price tags of more than $100,000 by the year 2022.

That’s the finding of a new study by the consultancy Ptolemus which also says carmakers are committed to a cocktail of sensors as the best solution to make the technology sufficiently robust. It predicts that, despite significant decreases, the cost to automakers for safe operation of Level 4 autonomy will still exceed $10,000 per vehicle in 2022, making it near-impossible to launch fully autonomous private cars below a $100,000 price tag and, thus, prohibiting roll-out in a mass market sense.

Despite this the study expects robo-taxis to be launched in 2021 because their 24/7 driverless operation ability will allow ride-hailing operators, such as Waymo, to recoup the hefty investment in fleets. Following on from this, it predicts the mass market will see the introduction of Level 4 technology such as ‘Automated Valet Parking’ and ‘Highway Drive’ in premium models.

To reach this point, the study involving 80 technology companies and 20 critical vendors, carmakers will have to use all the available sensor arrays currently at their disposal including LiDAR as the key technology instead of relying entirely on radars and cameras for vision, which is an approach championed by companies such as Tesla.

Frederic Bruneteau, Ptolemus’ managing director, said: “Two years ago, most OEMs were adamant that sensors and AI would suffice but high profile accidents have pushed the safety imperative, requiring extra layers of redundancy. We predict that a ‘good enough’ approach to automation will never be authorized by regulators worldwide.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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