The upcoming consumer autonomous vehicles (AV) market is more than a bold shift

So far, ADAS has given birth to Level 2+ and Level 2++ vehicles. Those are the high-end Teslas, Volvos, and Toyotas, and we could also mention the Mercedes, BMWs, and Land Rovers of this world.

What is mainly proposed with those high-end vehicles is an automated mode under human supervision. This is currently possible with a few 1,000 dollars’ worth of sensing and computing equipment.

The big step forward would be a jump to the elusive Level 3. This would mean the driver could take its eyes from the road to watch a movie or read an email, for example, while being able to take back control of the car at short notice (it is not yet clear if this means less than a few 10s of seconds or even minutes…). This evolution toward Level 3 is not yet ready to happen at current ADAS equipment pricing.

Driver assistance, Robotic vehicle or consumer AVs ? – Source: Arthur Radebaugh for the Chicago Tribune, 1959

The current ADAS market relies on the fact the average car price is $30,000, and the average ADAS spend is typically $300, reaching $3,000 at the very high-end. This is already a very tangible market. In 2020, ADAS sensing and computing was worth $8.7 billion, with a 20.8% CAGR, according to Yole Développement (Yole)’s report, Sensing and Computing for ADAS 2020. Nevertheless, in 2021, to remove the eyes of the human back-up from the road, the only option is the robotic vehicle approach.

Yole reported several analyses on robotic vehicle trends since 2016. Yole published the Sensors for Robotic Mobility 2020 report, entirely dedicated to vehicles and the transport of humans. More recently, Yole’s analysts released a specific technology & market analysis focused on goods transportation: Sensors for robotic goods transportation 2021.

Currently, robotic vehicles are designed for fully autonomous operations without human supervision. They are designed from the start for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) or Delivery-as-a-Service (DaaS) in mind. For these robotic vehicle approaches, the cost of a retrofitted vehicle can be quite high. Yole Développement considered, for example, that Waymo’s cars and trucks are fitted with $60k to $80k worth of sensor equipment, while adding the computing power would double that figure. In 2020, Yandex, the Russian competitor of Waymo with operations in Moscow, Tel Aviv and Ann Arbor, claimed its robotic Prius costs $100k “only”. This could be questioned, but obviously the $100k figure was meant to be controversial and was considered as a bargain. Considering the high value of vehicles, the robotic vehicle market should become very significant for technology providers as early signs of a fleet roll-out are now very clear. Waymo set up a factory in Michigan able to output 10s of thousand vehicles a year. Consolidation is under way: Amazon acquired Zoox, Cruise acquired Voyage, and Aurora merged with Uber ATG. The numerous autonomous truck startups, such as Tu Simple, Plus, and Embark, have started pilot operations along with Waymo-Via and Aurora. Despite ADAS and Robotic Vehicles both becoming tangible markets, a third path is popping up: the consumer AV market.

Everybody, in fact, had this Jetson image in mind when discussing autonomous vehicles in the first place. What made it a little bit more material was the release of the FSD chip and computer by Tesla, followed by Intel Mobileye’s presentation of the EyeQ5 chip and AV hardware and software stack. Both companies are openly discussing consumer AVs, with Amnon Shashua, the CEO of Intel Mobileye, specifically promising the sensing and computing package could cost $15k by 2025. This possibility is not yet factored into Yole’s ADAS market forecast, nor is it in the robotic vehicle market forecast. What is on the table here does not exist. All the hype is also due to project Titan from Apple. This market could be described as cars in the range of $75k to $100k with fully autonomous capability, a Waymo car within consumer ownership prices.

Many observers would say consumer AVs are just too much of a bold shift. Today, with $30k worth of equipment, one can reach the 5 to 10 miles per hour of an Easymile or Navya Shuttle. But for seamless autonomous road travel, the benchmark remains the $150k retrofit of a Waymo vehicle. At the time that Apple entered the mobile handset market, these had to be offered for free through subscriptions.  In 2021, consumers are paying $400 on average for a new smartphone, three times more than they were willing to pay a decade ago. The only way a consumer AV market could materialize is if a similar scenario plays out for automotive. Consumer AV is a complex case, but this could be a paradigm shift that could merge ADAS and Robotic Vehicle trends before 2030. Yole analysts will make sure to keep you posted.

About the author

Pierre Cambou, Yole Développement

Pierre Cambou, MSc, MBA, is a Principal analyst in the Photonics and Sensing Division at Yole Développement (Yole). Pierre’s mission is dedicated to imaging-related activities by providing market & technology analyses along with strategy consulting services to semiconductor companies.

At Yole, Pierre is responsible for the CIS Quarterly Market Monitor while he has authored more than 15 Yole Market & Technology reports. Known as an expert in the imaging industry, he is regularly interviewed and quoted by leading international media.

Previously, Pierre held several positions at Thomson TCS, which became Atmel Grenoble (France) in 2001 and e2v Semiconductors (France) in 2006. In 2012, he founded Vence Innovation, later renamed Irlynx (France), to bring to market an infrared sensor technology for smart environments.

Pierre has an Engineering degree from Université de Technologie de Compiègne (France) and a Master of Science from Virginia Tech. (VA, USA). Pierre also graduated with an MBA from Grenoble Ecole de Management (France).

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