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Mass market self-driving cars unlikely by 2035, industry experts say

October 8, 2023
The Star
5 mins read

BERLIN: Autonomous or self-driving cars are unlikely to be rolled out for general use by 2035, according to business analytics company S&P Global.

A "world of autonomous vehicles is likely to exist eventually," the company’s auto industry analysts said, and yet they see little prospect of consumers being able soon to buy a car "that will drive itself everywhere without the driver ready to take the wheel."

Although Google successfully tested a self-driving motor as far back as 2015, the sector only has been inching forward in the meantime.

What S&P Global said were "serious malfunctions of the nascent technology" mean prospects for Model T- or Volkwagen-style mass production are stuck in first gear.

The brakes have been applied as technicians struggle with the "massive hurdle" of developing systems that can "operate in the complex and unpredictable world of interactions with human drivers."

S&P Global analysts believe most drivers and car owners would at first be priced out of the self-driving market.

"The cost of the multiple camera, radar and lidar sensors and the high-performance computer systems, chips, and semiconductors to enable the technology will remain sufficiently high that most personal vehicle buyers simply won’t pay for the functionality - but taxi and ride-sharing services may," they said.

What looks to be doable, in the near term at least, are "robo-taxis" operating in "well-mapped areas where they have already been extensively tested," such as large US cities.

By the middle of the next decade there will be more "geofenced robo-taxis operated by fleets in specific areas" and more "hands-off systems with various safeguards in personal vehicles that require some form of driver engagement," S&P Global predicted.