Autonomous Vehicles – Thematic Research

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Autonomous Vehicles Market Overview

Autonomous vehicles exist in a number of forms, from models on sale today that control the speed and steering with continuous oversight from a human driver to fully self-driving ‘pods’ with no human controls, which are currently in development. Creating vehicles that can safely drive themselves with no oversight from humans has proven to be incredibly difficult. The complexity has pushed back optimistic deadlines for the deployment of higher-level AVs – expected to form the basis of highly profitable ‘robotaxi’ networks – leading to pressure within the sector as companies burn through capital with little to show for their efforts. GlobalData’s forecasts for autonomous vehicles show that 24.8 million new light vehicles were being equipped with some form of autonomy (level 1-5), of the total industry volume (TIV).

The emergence of COVID-19 has brought renewed pressure to every corner of the auto industry. Post-COVID-19, consumer attitudes to shared products and services – expected to be early proponents of autonomous technology – are unclear. This, along with an uneven global economic recovery, makes it difficult for auto players to build strategies to combat these threats and megatrends.

What are the market dynamics in autonomous vehicles sector?

Before the emergence of COVID-19, the automotive industry was fully occupied with addressing the CASE megatrends – connected technology, autonomous vehicles, shared mobility services and electrification. The COVID-19 pandemic itself is an existential threat to the notion of both shared mobility and autonomous vehicles. The risk to shared services was found impacting the fortunes of autonomous vehicles because sharing services such as these provide the best use case for self-driving.

In these unprecedented times, cash conservation is king for auto companies. The distraction and sheer cost of ‘blue-sky’ projects such as autonomous vehicles may help to focus on projects and products that will bring immediately realizable returns.

What are the trends in the autonomous vehicles market?

Technological trends

Few technological trends shaping the autonomous vehicle theme are potential use cases of AVs as commercial vehicles. Dozens of companies worldwide are developing the brains for self-driving vehicles. The world leaders are Google’s Waymo, GM’s Cruise, Nvidia, Baidu, Intel, Aptiv, Infineon, Qualcomm and NXP, along with a clutch of startups funded by legacy car makers and tech giants. Big data, cybersecurity are few other technological trends in Avs.

The emerging world of connected and increasingly autonomous vehicles demands huge volumes of sensors including cameras, ultrasonic, LiDAR and radar varieties. These banks of sensors feed live data to both on-board computers located in the vehicle and cloud-based remote data centers. The sharpest short-term growth will be seen in image-sensing cameras, where Sony is the clear leader, and laser-based 3D sensors where VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting laser) systems offer the most accurate auto-focus functionality in a camera.

Macroeconomic trends

Modern vehicles are as reliant on computer chips as they are on their engines and chassis. Most come fitted with a number of chipsets to handle on-board functions, power infotainment systems, and to monitor and perform driving functions including advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and semi-autonomous operation in limited circumstances. As tech companies, including Google, Uber, Tesla and Apple, move into autos and legacy auto companies are forced to take defensive action, M&A activity and auto-tech deal making will be a central industry feature.

Other trends

There may be a number of sizeable changes if TaaS enabled by self-driving vehicles becomes widespread. Over time, traffic flows will get faster; car parks, parking bays, parking meters, private garages and driveways will be used less and less, potentially releasing huge tracts of real estate for development.

What are the key players in autonomous vehicles (AV) sector?

Apple, Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora, Baidu, Cruise, Daimler, SAIC Motor, Tata Motors, Tesla, Toyota, Uber, and Veoneer are some of the key players in the autonomous vehicles (AV) sector.

Autonomous vehicles, key players

Autonomous vehicles, key players

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Market report scope

Companies mentioned Apple, Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora, Baidu, Cruise, (GM), Daimler, Didi Chuxing, Embark, Geely, Horizon Robotics, Intel, Nvidia, NXP, Pony.AI, Qualcomm, SAIC Motor, Tata Motors, Tesla, Toyota, Uber, Velodyne, Veoneer, Volkswagen, Waymo (Alphabet), Yandex, and Zoox


  • We highlight key developments within the AV theme, along with its top mergers and acquisitions, and a timeline of past and future milestones.
  • The report also features GlobalData forecast data for AV market size, including a breakdown by SAE autonomy level.
  • In the companies’ section, we look at the most important players in the AV field and their key moves in the sector.

Reasons to Buy

  • Understand the impact autonomous vehicles are having in the automotive space. Identify the emerging trends in autonomous vehicles and how these developments might advance in the future. Learn about key use cases where autonomous vehicles may soon achieve profitability. View GlobalData forecasts for the sector.
  • GlobalData’s thematic research ecosystem is a single, integrated global research platform that provides an easy-to-use framework for tracking all themes across all companies in all sectors. It has a proven track record of identifying the important themes early, enabling companies to make the right investments ahead of the competition, and secure that all-important competitive advantage.

Argo AI
Didi Chuxing
Horizon Robotics
SAIC Motor
Tata Motors
Waymo (Alphabet)

Table of Contents

Executive summary


Reality check for autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles in a post-COVID-19 world

Regulations governing AVs are set to tighten

Technology briefing


Industry analysis

Mergers and acquisitions


Value chain


Sector scorecards

Further reading

Our thematic research methodology

Frequently asked questions

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