On May 12, Arbe gave attendees a peek at the future of autonomy in 2030. In a virtual event, “Imagining Automotive in 2030,” Arbe’s leadership and industry experts conducted a riveting discussion about shifting and evolving mobility needs and the technologies that will address them over the next decade and beyond. They also considered what actions and events will need to transpire in order to ready the industry and achieve this expected future. The impressive speakers lineup included:
A full recording of the event can be found here, and a summary of the Fireside Chat follows below. For a transcript of the Business Update and Financial Results, click here.
Mor: This is a pivotal time in the automotive industry, with changes occurring faster than ever before. At the heart of these changes is technology innovation, and at the heart of this technology innovation is Arbe. What are the promises and challenges of automotive autonomy over the next decade?
“Mobility will be safer, cleaner and more convenient,” noted Alexander Hitzinger. “It will be safer because there will be a widespread use of ADAS systems in cars and in trucks. It will be cleaner because electrification will have gone mainstream and the majority of new vehicles sold will be electric. And it will be more convenient because the overall spectrum of transportation will be expanded.” Alex specifically mentioned micromobility, as he expects it will play a much bigger role for short-distance travel. He also pointed out that vehicles will have ADAS systems, which will make driving more enjoyable even in heavier traffic conditions, and we will also start to see things like EV toll incentives in the early stages. The spectrum of transportation will be much broader and, therefore, will make it more convenient to get from A to B.
Kobi Marenko agreed, and added that “The main difference is that everything will be safer. Autonomous driving is like the ambition to reach the moon. It’s a ten year plan. It will take time and effort. But, in the meantime, many by-products of these efforts will begin to play a large role in our lives.”
“Safety comes above all,” he continued, “The majority of the car manufacturers today put safety as their first goal. Being able to achieve safety at all times and in all conditions is going to be a major change that will begin in the coming years.”
In addition, Kobi pointed out that the delivery process and experience will shift dramatically. Even before 2030, we will begin to see deliveries executed by delivery robots without humans, directly to our homes. It will dramatically reduce the time and accessibility of delivery in general. Relatedly, trucks will also benefit from these efforts, and will be supported in increasingly safe, increasingly autonomous driving, which will also both save lives and improve the ability to bring goods to our homes at a better price and within shorter timeframes.
Gonen Barkan also observed, “Many driving functions that we are accustomed to executing ourselves will start to become much more automatic and autonomous, but it will happen gradually.”
Mor: By 2030, it’s safe to expect that Level 2+ will become an industry standard, at approximately 70% penetration, with an emphasis on safety rather than comfort, driven by both consumer demand and regulations. What technologies will be prevalent?
Gonen commented first, “To get to this safety level, especially when including more complex driving tasks, technology – and especially sensing – will have to step up. L4 won’t be as widespread, and the mass market will require safe and widely available driving features.
Radar will be the major driving force to getting there. We expect high-resolution cameras, and probably some LiDAR in the front. But to achieve this safety level and performance, a new generation and new scale of radars will be essential, and will represent the major change we’ll be seeing in technology.”
“It will be a phased approach,” confirmed Alexander. “There won’t be any ‘big bang’ when, suddenly, autonomy becomes available. It will likely be phased in slowly, starting off as a functionality that will be available on the highway on a specific route, to make traveling (and especially long-distance traveling) significantly more convenient. Similarly, long-haul trucking, which has a very good business case and easier use case, is another perfect way of rolling out Level 4 functionality. We will see that in the next few years, leading to 2030.”
Alexander also predicted that, in general, the technology will penetrate first to premium products, where consumers are less cost sensitive. As technology penetrates these areas, the volume of components will increase and, therefore, costs will decrease until it becomes a mainstream product. This is the natural process for most new technologies. The slow integration will also help raise awareness amongst the public and help people accept and feel comfortable with these technologies, which will, in turn, drive the adoption over time.
Kobi had another take: “I am confident that the car will become more and more autonomous, and that as it does it will have more and more entertainment surface area and content. So the screens will be bigger, maybe there will be commercials inside our car, we will be able to see videos, maybe play games, maybe see a movie. The car in 2030 will be part of the ecosystem of entertainment and advertising.”
Kobi also suggested that there remains an open question as to how much of the industry will become service-oriented. “How many people will abandon the car, or will decide that they don’t need to own a car when they can just take a car for hire?” He asked. “I think this will be especially relevant in big cities where there is no parking and it’s crowded and you don’t want to look for parking. This kind of car-as-a-service that is becoming more and more natural to the market will take more and more market share. The way I expect it to work is, if we can get the service of Level 3/Level4 on the highway, at least, it makes sense that on the weekend instead of using our own cars, we will hire a car (even if it’s at a slight premium) that can drive us all weekend without our needing to hold the wheel.”
Mor: In order for technology to be car-and-road ready, the model specification cut-off is approximately three years prior. Given that timeframe, what technologies will not be available in 2030, either because they will be phased out or because 2030 will still be too early for them?
One of the hardest technology problems out there is full autonomy in urban areas. Alexander expects that we will not see widespread adoption of this by 2030 because it’s such a “long tail” in terms of edge cases. “We will see more and more commercial pilots of the robotaxi use case. And we will potentially see first routes in existing networks, which will drive with this sort of pilot robotaxis. It will increase the usage of it, but it won’t be mainstream, it won’t be a real commercial business or something like that,” he maintained.
Kobi agreed that “Robotaxis right now look more like a hobby than a business. There are the technology challenges that we are far from solving.” Even the central processors, Kobi noted, need an order of magnitude or even two orders of magnitude more performance and more possessing power in order to support what is really needed for full autonomous driving at a scale and at a price that is achievable. “We will have this perhaps in some micromobility, maybe vehicles that drive 20-30 kilometers per hour in the city, like the delivery robots that will replace urban driving.”
Radars can and will provide required redundancy to bring those features to a safety level customers can trust. “I think radars today are far from it, still, and there needs to be a leap,” said Gonen, “This is where Arbe places itself, in getting the entire sensing suite to be available anywhere, at any time of the day, as an assist system. That is a huge step because I don’t believe it can happen with other radars.”
The industry is beginning to understand that the focus of car manufacturers in the last ten years was on how to pass safety tests. Now there is a major shift in the paradigm, and car manufacturers are beginning to understand that delivering a truly safe vehicle to customers should be the real goal.
“If we are aiming for a truly safe solution,” insisted Kobi, “the only solution is a radar that can work in any weather and any lighting condition up to a very long range in a safe way – without false targets and without missing any objects on and off the road. This has been our mission since the day we started.”
Mor: In other sectors, 2030 feels like nearly a decade away. Arbe has established a unique position within the market, mass adoption of autonomous driving is still, as the three panelists explained, very much ahead of us. Why discuss 2030 now?
“We are talking about 2030, because we believe that this will be the year where Level 2+ will be a mass product,” Kobi explained. “Everything that we see today as a kind of a pilot version in cars will be mainstream in 2030. But the cycles of the automotive industry are long. It takes technology, from the inception of an idea, more than ten years to get to the mainstream. They are now selecting radars for model year 2025, some of them even for model year 2026, and then they start ramping up on the high-end cars, with another three years until it goes mainstream. The decisions that are being made today really are influencing 2030.”
That being said, Arbe has a very bright future both next year and the year after. To be ready for Year Model 2025, the radar should begin the shift to the car manufacturer from the Tier-1 by the end of 2024, which means that a Tier-1 needs to get chips from us in early 2024.
Kobi continued: “Given that, Arbe will start to see the revenues in early 2024, even for a car that will only start production in September 2025. Also, it’s important to understand that the Chinese market runs faster. Everything that takes five years in the west takes three years in China. Everything that takes three years in the west takes two years in China. So, from China, we expect revenues even earlier.
Finally, Arbe is also engaging in a lot of the activity around delivery robots and around trucks, which don’t require the same three-year cycle that designing a car does. For a new boat or a truck, the radar is an aftermarket product. This is why we believe that we will start ramping up our revenues dramatically in 2023 towards 2024.”
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