LONDON—Up to 15 percent of all new cars sold could be fully autonomous by 2030, according to a McKinsey & Co. report from 2016, titled "Disruptive trends that will transform the auto industry."
The forecast, though, is conditional on all technological and regulatory issues being resolved. The report also notes that fully autonomous vehicles are unlikely to be commercially available before 2020.
In the meantime, McKinsey suggests that advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) will play a big role in preparing regulators, consumers, and corporations for the medium-term reality of cars taking over control from drivers.
But for all the potential to be realized, driverless technology must face challenges around safety issues and litigation, according to Dean Tener, business development manager at Smithers Rapra.
At the recent TTE expo conference in Hanover, Germany, Tener said driverless technology "will fly" because it adds value by removing the stress of driving and giving mobility to people who cannot drive due to handicap, age or other reasons.
But the key question is "'do customers want this and of so how much?' and that all comes back to safety," said Tener, who went on to note the critical role that tires will have in these vehicles of the future.
Tires will have to be more robust: not losing inflation pressure or experiencing structural problems. Therefore, there will be more enhanced and rigorous testing of tires, including aging characteristics.
Rolling resistance and tire weight also will be important, particularly for electric vehicles.
Control system will be another important requirement for tires, particularly when it comes to replacing them or switching between summer and winter tires. Tires will be part of an autonomous system that will have to deal with wet, icy and a range of other different road conditions.
The performance of tire sensor will become much more critical.
Overall, tires will have to help vehicle makers minimize the chance of litigation, Tener said, noting an already growing list of lawsuits against suppliers of driverless cars and related technologies in the U.S.
While tires today are developed and tested by expert evaluators, Smithers Rapra believes that, for autonomous vehicles, this role will be "taken over by control system engineers who will make sure the car does what it is supposed to do."
With regard to design, tires will become taller, skinnier and have no speed ratings, continued Tener, noting that there will be no need for speed ratings on tires as autonomous vehicles will not exceed specified speeds. Nor will there be much need for tire optimization drive, and handling performance will be much less of an issue in cars with essentially no steering wheel.