Autonomous vehicle is a trending topic for discussion. Features like driverless cars, pedestrian safety, etc. are what define if a vehicle is autonomous or not.

But what else is there to it?

Did you know that there are different Autonomy Levels – from 0 to five – as described by Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in Australia? Level 0 and one are semi-autonomous levels, where the driver is responsible for most of the functions but the vehicle offers features like adaptive cruise control (ACC), parking, and lane-keeping assist.

Level two is ‘highly autonomous’ and offers features like hands free driving, though the driver must be on the lookout and get ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Levels three, four, and five are ‘fully autonomous’. Vehicles with autonomous level five, the ultimate level, can perform like a human driver in all driving scenarios.

Most of the OEMs in the market like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Volvo have vehicles which are ‘highly autonomous’ and offer features that mostly assist in autopilot, traffic jam, and parking. However, these companies are ready to launch products that border on ‘fully autonomous’ – SAE level three.

Audi already has plans to launch its first ‘fully autonomous’ vehicle later this year with its A8 limousine in UK. It is said to have automotive laser scanner, a feature that will aid the car’s vision, viewing through 145 degree angle from the distance of 80 meters. It has already created much excitement in the market, a clear indication of the bright path and enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles.

By 2020, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla will have joined Audi with their own level three models that will come with interesting features of their own. Mercedes-Benz’s Level three models S and E Class will come with DISTRONIC PLUS with steer assist, intended to keep the vehicle on the course in case it drifts.

These OEMs have a huge challenge in the coming years to bring fully autonomous vehicles in the Australian market. Because as of 2016, 99.1% of new car sales were made my semi-autonomous vehicles. Highly autonomous vehicles didn’t make even 1% of the total new car sales market.

Hopefully, when the highly autonomous vehicles from various OEMs make it to the market in 2020, it will change things for the better and create demand. Though it is predicted that semi-autonomous vehicles won’t lose the new car sales market race anytime soon, by 2025, highly and fully autonomous vehicles will each take up close to 15% of the market. An impressive increment for a period of 10 years.

Australia’s mobility market is at a crucial stage. In 2016, its intelligent mobility market was valued at over $200 million. Though autonomous vehicle is one its several components, it will be equally, if not more, affected.

And by the looks of it, a lot is about to happen.

The market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of over 60 percent and will deeply affect the future of autonomous vehicles as well.

The time is of essence. For the autonomous vehicle to flourish, government and concerned parties also have to cater to the required infrastructure, like connected roads, road signs, and signals for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) for its safety.

But one thing is for sure, 2020s will see an abundance of autonomous vehicles milling about the Australian roads.


Sachi Mulmi is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. She can be reached at sachi.mulmi@frost.com


Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at sapan.agarwal@frost.com | +603 6204 5830