Autonomous steering is one of the key technologies that enables self-driving vehicles to maneuver without human intervention. It involves using advanced technologies such as GPS, sensors, cameras, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to accurately assess the vehicle’s position and surroundings, as well as making real-time steering decisions. Autonomous steering aims to improve vehicle safety, comfort, and efficiency by adapting to different driving conditions and optimizing steering settings in real-time.
Autonomous steering offers several benefits for both drivers and passengers, as well as for the environment and society. Some of the benefits are:
- Reduced accidents and fatalities: Autonomous steering can prevent or mitigate collisions by detecting and avoiding obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles. It can also react faster and more accurately than human drivers, especially in complex or unpredictable situations. According to a study by the Eno Center for Transportation, autonomous vehicles could reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90%.
- Improved traffic flow and fuel efficiency: Autonomous steering can optimize the vehicle’s speed and lane position, as well as coordinate with other vehicles, to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow. This can also reduce fuel consumption and emissions, as well as save time and money for drivers and passengers. According to a study by the University of Texas, autonomous vehicles could reduce fuel consumption by up to 44% and travel time by up to 40%.
- Enhanced comfort and convenience: Autonomous steering can provide a smoother and more comfortable ride for drivers and passengers, as well as free them from the stress and fatigue of driving. It can also enable drivers to engage in other activities, such as working, reading, or entertainment, while the vehicle takes care of the steering. According to a survey by the World Economic Forum, 58% of consumers would use their time in autonomous vehicles for leisure or work.
The challenges of autonomous steering
Despite the potential benefits, autonomous steering also faces several challenges and limitations that need to be addressed before it can be widely adopted and trusted by the public. Some of the challenges are:
- Technical complexity and reliability: Autonomous steering requires a high level of technical sophistication and integration of various hardware and software components, such as sensors, cameras, algorithms, and decision-making models. These components need to be reliable, robust, and secure, as well as able to handle different scenarios and uncertainties. Any malfunction or failure could result in serious consequences for the vehicle and its occupants, as well as for other road users.
- Legal and ethical issues: Autonomous steering raises several legal and ethical questions, such as who is responsible and liable for the vehicle’s actions and outcomes, how to ensure the vehicle’s compliance with traffic laws and regulations, and how to balance the vehicle’s safety and efficiency with the rights and preferences of the driver and passengers. These issues need to be clarified and resolved by the relevant authorities and stakeholders, as well as communicated and understood by the public.
- Social and psychological factors: Autonomous steering also involves social and psychological factors, such as the acceptance and trust of the public, the impact on the driving culture and behavior, and the potential effects on the employment and livelihood of human drivers. These factors need to be considered and addressed by the industry and the society, as well as supported by education and awareness campaigns.
The leading innovators in autonomous steering
According to GlobalData, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the automotive industry, and autonomous steering is one of them. Within the emerging innovation stage, autonomous steering is a disruptive technology that is in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.
According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of autonomous steering. Some of the key players in autonomous steering are:
- Tesla: Tesla is a leading innovator in autonomous steering, as well as in other aspects of autonomous driving. The company’s Autopilot system enables the vehicle to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically within its lane, as well as change lanes and park. The company is also developing a Full Self-Driving (FSD) system, which aims to enable the vehicle to drive autonomously in any condition and location. Tesla has filed over 200 patents related to autonomous steering, and has a high geographic reach and application diversity.
- Waymo: Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and is focused on developing and deploying autonomous driving technology. The company’s Waymo Driver system uses a combination of sensors, cameras, and AI to enable the vehicle to steer, navigate, and respond to various situations on the road. The company operates a fleet of self-driving vehicles, including cars, trucks, and minivans, and offers a ride-hailing service called Waymo One. Waymo has filed over 100 patents related to autonomous steering, and has a high geographic reach and application diversity.
- Bosch: Bosch is a global supplier of technology and services for the automotive industry, and is involved in various innovation areas, including autonomous steering. The company’s Electric Power Steering (EPS) system uses an electric motor to assist the driver in steering the vehicle, as well as to enable autonomous steering functions, such as lane keeping assist, lane change assist, and parking assist. The company also offers a Servolectric system, which is a fully electric steering system that can steer the vehicle independently of the driver. Bosch has filed over 100 patents related to autonomous steering, and has a high geographic reach and application diversity.