Recent developments in technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), have enabled the connected, autonomous, shared, and electric (CASE) mobility trend, according to IDC, which adds that this trend has been accompanied by the emergence of a highly competitive automotive industry in China.

A new report from IDC China – Autonomous Driving Capabilities Assessment, 2024 – examines the progress of autonomous driving technology and evaluates the autonomous driving features of six major vehicle brands.

The autonomous driving market is advancing into a new stage of development enabled by major breakthroughs in algorithm performance, computing power, and data development.

* Algorithms: The maturity and application of the Transformer model in autonomous driving engineering projects has greatly enhanced perception performance. The decision-making and planning module is gradually changing from rule-based to model-based, providing room for enhancing vehicles’ independent decision-making capabilities and coping with complex road conditions. Moreover, enterprises have started in-depth exploration and actual deployment of end-to-end algorithms for the entire perception-planning process which lays a foundation for further realisation of efficient driver assistance and even full driving automation.

* Computing Power: In response to the large-scale computing needs in the realm of autonomous driving, enterprises are actively developing and applying high-performance, specialised neural processing units (NPUs) to provide strong support for endpoint equipment to run large-scale neural networks and complex models. The increasing use of NPUs at the vehicle end effectively provides hardware support for the application of enhanced advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) algorithms.

* Data Development: The optimisation of data development and model training efficiency has significantly accelerated software iteration. Some enterprises have implemented development toolsets based on the concept of closed-loop data to realise the automation and efficiency of the whole data processing process, and established integrated online data flow and development systems. Thanks to the changes brought about by the data closed-loop, software iteration has been significantly accelerated and multiple iterations in a day have become possible.

“The rising investment in autonomous driving, continuous advancement of chip processing power, and rapid iteration of software versions have fueled the China autonomous driving market to enter a new phase of development,” says Catherine Hong, senior market analyst for IDC China. “The competition in the China autonomous driving market will become even fiercer – and the establishment of competitive advantages in this field depends on car makers’ long-term investment in the research and development of autonomous driving technology, effective management, and use of autonomous driving data assets, as well as continuous enhancement of the excellent performance and reliability of their products.”

To evaluate the autonomous driving experience offered by automotive OEMs, IDC focused on the enhanced ADAS features of six major vehicle brands in China: AITO, JI YUE, Li Auto, NIO, Tesla, and XPeng (listed alphabetically). The enhanced ADAS features included parking, LCC (Lane Centering Control), and NOA (Navigate on Autopilot).

The evaluation found that the penetration rate of advanced autonomous driving functions of most brands needs improvement.

When it comes to the parking function, the brands in this study generally achieved high success rates in automatic parking in standard parking spaces, but still need to improve their flexible response capability in the face of changes in the parking environment, passing, and other situations.

In driving use cases, all the brands have relatively high completion in highway NOA, but the response ability of most systems still meets great challenges in complex traffic situations in urban areas.

Looking to the future, investment in autonomous driving has become a certain trend. With the mass production of various brands of cars with autonomous driving functions and the increasing improvement of advanced autonomous driving functions, car makers will be bound to get involved in fierce competition in this field no matter what position they hold in intelligence and autonomous driving.

Whether a company chooses to purchase technology, cooperate in development, or be devoted to independent R&D it is time to accelerate the investment in this field as it is the prerequisite to participate in market competition to keep pace with or even surpass competitors in autonomous driving technology.