March 30, 2015
A new study from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and KPMG claims that the development of connected and autonomous vehicles will help generate 320,000 jobs in the UK and deliver huge benefits to society and the economy. The first ever comprehensive analysis of the opportunities provided by the new technology claims that by 2030 driverless cars will deliver a £51 billion boost to the UK economy, reduce congestion and carbon emissions and cut serious road traffic accidents by more than 25,000. By that time all new cars will incorporate some form of connectivity, according to the report’s authors. It also predicts that the UK will be a global leader in the production of this next generation of vehicles, with the support of Government including financial backing. The study was presented at last week’s SMMT conference in London.
“New technology is fundamental to government’s ambitious vision for our roads,” said Transport Minister Robert Goodwill at the event. “That is why we are making huge investments to support innovation, including £19 million for real-world trials of driverless cars and £100 million to research autonomous vehicles, as recently announced in the Budget. Connected and autonomous cars will help us move towards a smart, safe, efficient and low-carbon future.”
There are obstacles, of course. Earlier in March the Commons Transport Committee reported that the UK is a long way from being able to support driverless cars and far more work needs to be carried out to prepare the road and technological infrastructure needed to prepare the country for autonomous vehicles. Driverless vehicle trials have already begun in Bristol, Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry.
Design consultancy IDEO is one firm exploring the implications for the workplace. Last year it announced its Future of Automobility project which explores concepts such as on-demand delivery services and the use of driverless cars as workspaces and ‘inverted commuting’ which will see workplaces travel to people.