Self-driving cars to give UK economy a US$81bn boost

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According to a new report, the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) could provide the UK with a £62bn (US$81bn) boost by 2030.

In the global race-to-market of autonomous vehicles, the UK is in a strong position with investment, infrastructure, regulations and market attractiveness all taken into account in the report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Frost & Sullivan.

It analyzes the wide-ranging societal and economic benefits to be achieved by gradually increasing CAVs on the roads and concludes that the UK could see over 420,000 new jobs created and more than 47,000 serious accidents prevented as it’s estimated one in every five miles traveled in 2030 could be automated.

With more than £500m (US$653m) already committed by industry and government to CAV R&D and testing in the UK, autonomous driving trials are taking place in major towns and cities. The UK boasts four major CAV testbeds and three additional sites focused on highways, rural and parking, with more than 80 collaborative R&D projects underway.

“A transport revolution stands before us as we move to self-driving cars and the UK is in pole position in this £62bn race. Government and industry have already invested millions to lay the foundations, and the opportunities are dramatic – new jobs, economic growth and improvements across society. The UK’s potential is clear. We are ahead of many rival nations, but to realize these benefits we must move fast,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

To realize this potential, however, the conditions must be right, and sustained support from government will be vital – particularly if the UK is to meet its ambition to get autonomous vehicles on to UK roads in 2021. The report’s key recommendations for government include updating road traffic laws, improving 4G coverage across all road networks, encouraging local authorities to work with industry to implement urban mobility services, and influencing future harmonization of international regulations to ensure these new vehicles can operate seamlessly between the UK and abroad.

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As editor of four magazines at UKi Media & Events James brings over a decade of writing about, and obsessing over, technology and cars to Automotive Interiors World, Stadia, Winter Sports Technology International and Auditoria. Responsible for commissioning, writing and editing each issue he’s covered the best (and worst) from around the industry on a continual search to feature the latest innovation or talking point on the next cover.

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