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Hands-Free Cars Are Here… With 3.5m Sales Last Year

Sun Mar 28 2021

Global Shipments of Self-Drive vehicles hit 3.5m in Q4 of 2020

The sales of autonomous, self-drive cars powered by artificial intelligence are increasing, with over 3.5 million being shipped globally in the last three months of 2020, according to a report from analyst house Canalys. 

 

Whilst that figure sounds impressive, it’s important to remember that how ‘self-drive’ a car is operates on a sliding scale, from 0 t0 5.

The lowest level, 0, is in reference to automates systems that can occasionally take control of the car (for things likes automatic parking), whilst level 5 refers to cars where manual control is entirely optional.

By far the most common level currently on the market is level 2. At level 2 a car is able to control its own momentum and direction, being in charge of acceleration and assisted steering but… the driver needs to be ready at all times to take control of the car.

The most advanced example of this is still Tesla’s AI Autopilot system although, according to the recently released report, the 3.m sales in Q4 of 2020 mostly consisted of Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford’s self-drive options, all offering it as an additional feature on their newer cars.

 

The US accounted for around 30% of the car sales, closely followed by Japan, the EU, UK and China.

Such self-drive cars, rather than being the stuff of sci-fi novels, are increasingly becoming common place, with a standard self-drive car, at the time of this article, costing less than £29k.

 

Industry experts expect level 3 self-drive cars to start appearing on the roads this year (level 3 being defined as the driver not in control but ready to take over in case it’s needed) with some of the first examples already on sale in Japan.

However, whilst the cars may be capable of self-drive, there are still a lot of blockers to more widespread adoption, none the least being legislation around the technology.

Currently the possibilities of AI tech are outstripping the law, with self-drive cars technically being illegal in many countries.

 

As cloudThing reported last year the UK government is expected to publish the results of its self-drive consultation in the next few months, outlining both driver and manufacturers responsibilities.

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Sun Mar 28 2021

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