Three Major Roadblocks Affecting Autonomous Vehicle Growth


There is tremendous opportunity in the autonomous vehicle (AV) market. In fact, the market is predicted to reach $7 trillion annually by 2050. There are many companies around the world developing autonomous and intelligent vehicle technology as they seek to capitalize on the massive growth potential of the market. However, this fragmented market also creates a number of hurdles affecting autonomous vehicle growth.


Roadblocks to Autonomous Vehicle Development

Regulators and legislators, who are attempting to support the development of intelligent infrastructure while protecting consumers, are churning out a patchwork of rules and regulations that differ by country and region. This is creating a challenge for autonomous and intelligent automobile manufacturers.

Roadblocks that these regulators are seeking to address include:

Data Privacy Concerns

The sheer volume of data produced every second by an autonomous vehicle—equal to the data produced by 10,000 internet users—can be overwhelming. How is this data being recorded? Who has access to it, and how is it being used? How is the information being shared with other vehicles, infrastructure, etc.? And how is consent from the end-user being collected (or is it being collected?) In a post-GDPR world, understanding data privacy issues related to AVs is a pressing matter.

Lack of Intelligent Infrastructure

Although an autonomous vehicle sends and receives information, the system responds to driving scenarios based on its previous experiences. Therefore, new or unexpected roadway or weather conditions can lead to system failures and accidents. Improved infrastructure can help with these issues, but it will not be a quick process. As noted in Harvard Business Review, “We’ll likely start to see a more standardized and active environment as more smart infrastructure is constructed. Think of radio transmitters replacing traffic lights, higher-capacity mobile and wireless data networks handling both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and roadside units providing real-time data on weather, traffic, and other conditions. Common protocols and communications standards will have to be devised and negotiated, as they were with internet communication protocols or the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) for mobile phones. This transition will take decades, and autonomous vehicles will have to share the roads with human drivers.” 

Lack of Standards

As noted above, different countries and regions are addressing AV challenges through a jumble of rules and regulations that makes it challenging for automobile manufacturers to identify a clear path forward. For example, China has outlined regulatory structures that accommodate autonomous vehicle infrastructure as part of its Made in China 2025 initiative. However, these may not line up with regulations produced by Germany, the UK or the United States.

In an effort to support and advance automotive technologies, the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA) facilitates standards to address these issues. The Automotive Technology Initiative (ATI) from IEEE SA provides a platform that brings together the global technical community working across these automotive industry topics. This collaborative environment allows technical professionals to share knowledge, discuss issues, and identify standards-related solutions in order to drive innovation and accelerate emerging technology adoption. Learn more about how to get involved >>


Free Webinar on Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Overcoming the roadblocks related to autonomous vehicles can lead to fewer vehicles on the road, a safer driving experience, and an improved environmental impact. However, there is work to be done on several fronts in order to create an environment that leads to worldwide adoption of autonomous vehicles.

Want to learn more about autonomous vehicle technology? Join us for a free webinar, IEEE Guide to Autonomous Vehicle Technology, presented by Dr. Alexander M. Wyglinski, Dr. Nasser Lashgarian Azad, and Dr. Steve Vozar.

This webinar will provide:

  • A brief overview of the foundational and practical applications of autonomous, connected, and intelligent vehicle technologies
  • An understanding of the role that sensors play in an AV system
  • An explanation of how to model and evaluate the performance of intelligent vehicle control algorithms using state-of-the-art techniques and concepts — especially in real-world conditions
  • A live Q&A session

Brought to you by IEEE Educational Activities and the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society




Calvard, Thomas; Potočnik, Kristina; Oliver, Nick. (14 Aug 2018). To Make Self-Driving Cars Safe, We Also Need Better Roads and Infrastructure. Harvard Business Review.

NetworkNewsWire. (11 Jul 2018). $7 Trillion Annual Market Projected for Autonomous Autos by 2050. PR Newsletter.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. (31 Jan 2019). The Sensor: The Legal Crystal Ball: Autonomous Vehicles Developments to Watch for In 2019. Lexology.

Tanenblatt, Eric; Schneider, Crawford. (10 Jul 2019). Biggest Roadblock to Autonomous Vehicles Isn’t Technology. WardsAuto.

Chen, Henry. (2 Aug 2019). The Driverless Commute: Emergence of L4 autonomous driving in China. Driverless Commute.

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