Unmanned Systems News

Autonomous Vehicle Growth Fuelled by Electric Vehicle Advancements

Published: 24 Feb 2021 by

Autonomous technology integrates better with electric engines. Leading manufacturer of advanced inertial sensing technologies Parker LORD have successfully outlined the case that electric vehicles (EVs) are strongly contributing to the widespread advancement and adoption of autonomous vehicles (AVs).

Speaking of the USA’s $50 billion investment to develop AV technology over the past 5 years, Business Development & Marketing Manager at LORD Corporation, Prasanna Srinivasan explained that while autonomous vehicles are currently possible, they require an extensive and expensive set of sensors and software along with exemptions from standard regulations.

However, with a trillion-dollar market developing around the world through the use of disruption technology in driverless vehicles, consumers note the need for faster charging infrastructure, battery durability, longer range, safe and regulated technology and protection of personal and vehicle data.

Electric cars are easier for computers to drive—indeed, most EVs are built with drive-by-wire systems that replace traditional mechanical control systems with electronic controls, and these systems create a more compatible and flexible platform for autonomous driving technologies.

There are various benefits with autonomous vehicles being electrified. They are very complimentary, technology-wise, but AVs as EVs means required energy conversion due to the differences in voltage. One way for automakers to meet the power-hungry needs of self-driving systems will be to use gasoline-electric hybrid models rather than purely electric cars, at least for the first driverless cars.

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles

A hierarchy has been defined with five levels of autonomous vehicles by the Society of Automation Engineers (SAE). The industry is currently at level two, and this can be defined as “partial automation,” which means the vehicle can automatically brake and steer, as seen with Tesla’s Autopilot, Mercedes Benz Drive Pilot and Audi Traffic Jam Pilot, just to name a few.

The start of the next decade will see big changes towards full autonomy if technology, regulations, infrastructure & other factors align. Auto OEMs, start ups and others are touting the benefits of the autonomous vehicles and in a highly advertised race to see who will be the first to market at each level.

Although the size of this opportunity will depend on a range of factors related to urban density and consumer acceptance of car sharing, the market for fully autonomous vehicles is likely to remain small over the next 5 to 10 years. For at least the next decade, most consumers are more likely to buy vehicles that use technology only to assist drivers—things like automated emergency braking or assistive parking—rather than fully autonomous cars.

What remains clear is that advancements in battery charge times, range, and reliability of electric vehicles, will accelerate the speed at which autonomous vehicles are able to be developed. A big breakthrough in battery technology to offer plenty of range and autonomous functions is needed to achieve pure electric AVs. There is an expectation to move from lithium-ion batteries to solid-state. Solid-state would be safer, more compact, higher-capacity, yet higher cost but most experts expect it will be 10-20 years before fully commercialized.

Parker LORD, MicroStrain Sensing Systems are proud to help the industry move towards electrification and eventually autonomous driving with leading-edge materials and sensing technologies

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