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Study predicts 54 million autonomous cars in 2035

A new study of autonomous cars by IHS details the progression of the technology into the marketplace.

Ford Motor
Ford is researching autonomous vehicle technology with this Fusion sedan. Ford Motor

A study by analyst firm IHS predicts milestones for autonomous cars entering the market, with global sales of 230,000 in 2025 and 11.8 million in 2035.

By 2035, the study predicts, 54 million autonomous cars will be in use.

IHS breaks down autonomous cars into five levels. Level 3 cars include limited self-driving capabilities based on specific road and traffic conditions. The Mercedes-Benz S550 almost meets this criteria. Level 4 cars will include both manual controls and self-driving capability. Audi has shown a conceptual video detailing this type of vehicle.

Level 5 cars, of which IHS predicts 4.8 million sales per year by 2035, have no manual controls and only work autonomously.

IHS notes that some automakers have promised the first autonomous cars by 2020. Technologies already in place enabling this trend include adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Improved sensors on production vehicles will be necessary to further the trend. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems will also play a role.

The IHS study puts the top three autonomous car markets for 2035 at 29 percent for North America, 24 percent for China, and 20 percent in Western Europe.