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Google39s selfdriving car  Photo by Justin SullivanGetty Images
<p>Google&#39;s self-driving car / Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images</p>

The race to self-driving vehicles

Lux Research, a company we interviewed at the 2014 Ag Innovation Showcase, released a forecast last week for automation in cars.  In the report, “The $102 Billion Opportunity for Partial Automation for Cars,” Lux research analyst Maryanna Saenko evaluated the pace of automation in cars, and the opportunities it brings to automakers.

Among her findings:

•              Enhanced driver-assist segment has the best opportunity. Cars with basic driver- assist features, like parking assist, will cash in early, with a potential $29.6 billion market by 2022. However, enhanced driver-assist features such as adaptive cruise control and lane merge offers the largest opportunity to automakers and tier-one manufacturers – worth $73 billion in 2030. 

•              True full autonomy won't arrive by 2030. Partial autonomy features – like self-driving on the highway – will be slow to roll out over the next 10 years, before growing to a $22.7 billion opportunity by 2030. In the most likely case, fully autonomous cars will not hit the market before 2030, largely because of regulations and a current lack of prototypes.

•              Automation will add to cost. Enhanced driver-assist features will add $527 to the price of new cars in 2020, and a lower $481 per car in 2030. The bulk of the additional cost arises from software – $367 in 2020, and $220 per car in 2030 – while connectivity will account for $160 per car in 2020 and $261 in 2030.

I find reports like this interesting in my job of farm reporting because of the interplay between cars and tractors. In 2002, we wrote a story called “From the highway to the field,” in which we outlined six technologies from cars that were coming to tractors. At the time, Control Area Networks or “CANbus, machinery prognostics, personal computers and tire inflation systems were relatively new technologies in cars that were making their way to tractors. It has taken a few years, but now all of those technologies are available on tractors in some form.

Canbus was a technology that I wrote about for the first time in 1998, when Case IH introduced it on its MX Series magnum as a way to monitor and control all implement functions from a single touchscreen display in the cab. Tire inflation systems are now just coming on, thanks to PTG of Germany. 

Autoguidance, however, has been somewhat of an anachronism in that farming has taken the lead for several decades now.  Tractors today come factory-equipped with assisted steering systems and soon they won’t even need a driver with advancements being made by Kinze, John Deere, and other farm tech companies. According to the Lux report, it will be another 10 to 15 years before cars will achieve the same level of autonomy.

Contact Lux Research for the full report. 

You  might also like:

What you didn't know about drones

2015 AETC Conference: An insider’s look at what ag engineers are talking about

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