AVs evolution of technology

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

by: Qurius

From BCG report 'Revolution in the driver's seat'.

The functionality of AVs relies on;

  • innovative technologies to process the inputs from sensors
  • software to interpret the inputs and translate them into action.

Vehicle manufacturers and suppliers will therefore need to invest heavily in hardware, such as sensor technology and processors. Most notably, sensors will need further development before they can be used commercially.

A mix of sensors that rely on radar, cameras, ultrasound and light detection have already been developed. But some of the most vital enabling components, specifically lidar sensors and GPS, must be further developed and their costs scaled down, before OEMs will adopt them.

BCG exhibit 6 unit costs for sensors must be scaled down

There are wide variations in Autonomous Architectures, yet whatever combination OEMs choose, they will rely on improved processing speeds to handle the large amount of data from sensors that enable the car to respond quickly to time-sensitive situations - for example, when road obstacles must be identified and avoided.

The challenge of Autonomous Software

The software in the latest Mercedes S-class car has 15 times more lines of code than the software in a Boeing 787.

Software must be further developed to interpret sensor data and trigger the actuators that govern vehicle braking, acceleration and steering. The software will need to be highly intricate to contend with the complexity of the driving environment.

Short-range communications technology, such as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, collectively referred to as V2X - can be effectively applied to complex driving environments to enhance the safety of AVs.

The price tag

The technology will not gain commercial scale overnight, it may take several years before OEMs will be able to offer autonomous features at a price that's both acceptable to consumers and profitable for the manufacturer.

It is expected that by about 2025, the cost of autonomous features initially developed for partial AVs will have decreased to the point where adding the sensor and processing capabilities needed to enable full AVs will become economically feasible.

BCG Exhibit 7 features partial avs costs to full avs