Level 1 autonomous vehicles will jump by more than 11% in five years, according to a new report

IDC looks at the factors involved in getting autonomous vehicles on the road, not only as innovative technology but to improve traffic congestion.

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Image: Olivier Le Moal, Getty Images/iStockphoto

As the world races toward a driverless future—with one in 10 vehicles predicted to be autonomous by 2030—the tech required to make such vehicles a safe option has become the primary focus for technology companies and automakers.

A new report, Worldwide Autonomous Vehicle Forecast, 2020-2024 from the International Data Corporation (IDC) finds that vehicles with Level 1 autonomy will jump to 54.2 million in 2024 from 31.4 million in 2019, showing a compound growth rate of 11.5% over the five-year period.

(Level 1 means the driver controls most functions, but is assisted by automatic steering or accelerating, for instance. Here's a quick refresher on the different levels of autonomous driving).

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During this period, Level 0 cars—now the most common type—will decline, in favor of vehicles autonomous functionality, partly as a result of the rise of tech-enabled driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and regulation measures that account for the growth of the autonomous vehicle industry.

According to the report, "vehicles with some degree of automation (SAE Levels 1-5) will represent more than 50% of all vehicles produced by 2024."

Level 1 and 2 vehicles will see the greatest growth, in part because they are expected to draw the greatest investments during this period. These two levels are also a more comfortable option for those fearful of the risks of autonomous vehicles, and seen as a safer bet for manufacturers and regulators.

Level 3 technology, in which the driver will only intervene when necessary, is expected to grow as well, especially in high-speed and low-speed highway driving. Vehicles in the more fully autonomous range, Levels 4 and 5, are still considered to be a long-term goal, and depend on a variety of factors, including advanced technology, public trust (a key component), and government regulation. 

Given these important considerations, "IDC does not expect any SAE Level 5 vehicles to be available worldwide during the forecast period," according to the report. Highly automated vehicles (Level 3-5) are forecasted to grow to more than 850,000 units by 2024.

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"The pathway to increased vehicle autonomy will be largely built on gradual feature and capability advancements," said Matt Arcaro, research manager, Next-Generation Automotive and Transportation Strategies at IDC in the release.

"Although SAE Level 4, full self-driving vehicles will capture media headlines and will deliver tremendous value to society, the impact of SAE Levels 1 and 2 vehicle growth over the forecast period remains too large to be ignored."

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