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Autonomous Systems in Transportation

Segmentation of the drone service market at year 2020. Source PwC

Autonomous systems in transportation can be segmented in public transportation systems, car rental and sharing systems, industrial (goods) transportation and private transportation. They can be further segmented in ground, air and water transport.

Overall the autonomous systems market in transportation is expected to reach a global value of 172.3 billion $ market in 2024. This estimate includes the autonomy level from 3 to 5, with 5 being the full autonomy (this is not expected to be in place for private vehicle in the observation time frame). In addition to technologies listed in section 2.1.1 (Machine Augmentation) autonomous systems in transportation will leverage, and give a market boost to, GIS/mapping, geo-fencing, edge computing.

The global self-driving (level 5) cars and trucks is expected to reach 6.7 thousand units in 2020 growing at 63.1% CAGR in the following 10 years to hit 700,000 vehicles sold in 2030.Notice that these figures relate to fully autonomous vehicles (level 5). Much higher numbers apply to lower autonomy levels.

There are several factors that may modify significantly these estimates, from regulatory framework to technology evolution, particularly LIDAR, image recognition, ambient infrastructures and battery cost/performance. The expected insurance cost is a driver towards rapid adoption being 1/5 of the normal insurance cost. In the long term, 20 years, once the ratio fully autonomous vs other vehicles will swap, the insurance cost of non-autonomous vehicles may surge to take into account the lower volumes and this can further push towards the adoption of fully autonomous cars. However, for the coming years the market will remain negligible.

Autonomous vehicles will be electrical powered. The merging of the autonomous with electrical will change the whole value chain and even more important, is bound to change the perception of mobility, from ownership to service, but this is going to happen beyond the horizon of this White Paper.

The segment of self-driving taxis will see a fast growth making up – worldwide – for over 100,000 fully autonomous taxis by 2022 with 42% located in the US.

On water, the autonomous ship market is estimated at 6.1 billion in 2018 growing to 13.8 billion in 2030. The main driver is increased safety in operation. The slow growth is due to the long life span of ships, so that the existing ones will not be decommissioned for a long time.

Transportation based on autonomous drones is just starting. It is expected to reach 11.2 billion $ in 2022 and 29.06 billion $ in 2027. The segment of under 5kg payload is the one with the highest expected growth and the market lion share taken by Asia/Pacific followed by North America. Notice, however, that the service market for drones is much bigger, expected to reach 120 billion $ in 2020 – see second figure – it was 2 billion $ in 2016.

The largest share of the market is in infrastructure surveillance followed by agriculture. The transportation market follows with an estimated value at 13 billion (TAM – Total Available Market).

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.