Skip to main content Skip to footer

November 17, 2022

Here’s where self-driving vehicles are becoming a reality

While passenger cars are a ways off, trucking and taxis are making progress.

In the news

Self-driving vehicles are the perennial next big thing; always just around the corner, never quite here.

Recent setbacks prompted Bloomberg to run an article entitled, “Even After $100 Billion, Self-Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere.” That may be harsh, but recently Tesla admitted its cars, even those with the “full self-driving” (FSD) option, aren’t ready to gain the regulatory approval that would allow drivers to nap in the backseat—human oversight is still required.

Experts pointed out that regulatory hurdles are less of a problem than the functionality itself, which is not ready for prime time. "The impediment is the technology. It is not about approval of that technology,” one said.

Meanwhile Xpeng, a Chinese maker of electric vehicles, has a system similar to Tesla’s FSD and is boasting about approval for true autonomous driving. But the fine print bears study; Xpeng vehicles are only genuinely autonomous in certain urban, fully mapped situations. And Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle startup backed by Ford and VW, has just shut down. Even one analyst who is generally optimistic admits, “There is still a long way to go before fully autonomous cars can be built.”

The Cognizant take

Aditya Pathak, Cognizant VP and Head of Auto, Transportation & Logistics, Americas, is less bearish on self-driving vehicles. Despite the acknowledged setbacks in autonomous passenger cars, he notes, “there is also steady progress being made.” Honda recently introduced its Legend, the world’s first Level 3 autonomous car, and the Mercedes EQS has also earned Level 3 autonomy certification in Germany.

But even more interesting developments are shaping up in point-to-point long-haul trucking, Pathak says, “where the total addressable market is 10 times that of self-driving cars.” Companies like Torc, Samsara, TuSimple, Aurora and Embark are all working with truck OEMs to bring self-driving trucks to reality for point-to-point, long-haul use.

In the US, Pathak expects a 2024 debut of self-driving trucks that run between transfer hubs on certain highways. “This approach side-steps the technical complexity of reliably solving self-driving in urban, first and last miles,” he says. It could also unlock significant wage expense reductions (40% to 50%), increase daily miles driven (by 20% to 30%) and alleviate the chronic driver shortage in the US.

“By some estimates,” Pathak adds, “we could see 90% of long-haul miles become automated in the not-so-distant future, unlocking tremendous cost efficiencies and improved safety—and transforming the entire logistics industry.”

He also points to the global “robo-taxi” market, which is expected to grow from $1.71 billion this year to $11 billion in 2026. “Players like Waymo, Cruise and Zoox are making steady progress and are now in the process of growing their operations in current markets and expanding into new cities,” he says.

So maybe those who are crowing because you can’t yet nap in your Tesla while being whisked to the office are missing the bigger point.

Tech to Watch Blog
Cognizant’s weekly blog
Headshot of Digitally Cognizant author Tech to Watch

Understand the transformative impact of emerging technologies on the world around us as they address our most significant global challenges.

Latest posts

Related posts

Subscribe for more and stay relevant

The Modern Business newsletter delivers monthly insights to help your business adapt, evolve, and respond—as if on intuition