Self-Driving Cars Are Roaming the Bay Area

Navigant Research chimes in for an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on the prevalence of the autonomous vehicle industry

In San Francisco and surrounding cities, the autonomous vehicle industry is taking hold. Self-driving cars leveraging innovation from Detroit and Silicon Valley cruise neighborhood streets, which have now become testing grounds for what many developers believe will make human drivers obsolete.

A recent San Francisco Chronicle article looks at how industry, technology, and creativity have converged to make the Bay Area a hub for the business of automated driving. Currently, market players include big names such as Tesla, Apple, and Google and range all the way down to just five-person startups looking for a unique angle into the market. However, Sam Abuelsamid, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, says while San Francisco is currently the hotspot, it might not stay that way forever.

“San Francisco is one of the most likely U.S. cities, from a weather standpoint,” he said, adding that other early hot spots could include Singapore, which has already extended a welcome to robot-taxi tests, and China.

He also added that while the market is developing rapidly, barriers to personal ownership persist. Early autonomous models could be around $100,000 and even with economies of scale are still expected to be higher than their conventional counterparts. In addition, there is also a question of liability.

“Manufacturers will want to keep these vehicles within their control to make sure they are properly maintained, serviced and kept up to date,” Abuelsamid said. “When you buy a car today, once it’s off the lot, the customer can do anything with it.”

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