Ongoing developments in self-driving vehicle technology could boost the UK economy by £62 billion over the next decade, according to a report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Frost & Sullivan.
The report suggests that the UK currently holds an advantage over rival nations, such as Germany, South Korea and the US, as a prime location for the rollout of autonomous vehicles.
Several factors, including progressive legislation to allow widespread use of self-driving vehicles on motorways, urban and rural roads, as well as insurance legislation for these vehicles, places the nation ahead of rival states.
Sarwant Singh, senior partner and head of mobility at Frost & Sullivan, said that while the UK has all the ingredients for success, efforts by stakeholders and government must be improved to realise the potential economic benefits.
“The UK already has the essential building blocks – forward-thinking legislation, advanced technology infrastructure, a highly-skilled labour force, and a tech-savvy customer base – to spearhead CAV deployment over the next decade,” he said.
“However, it will require sustained and coordinated efforts by all key stakeholders, especially the government, to realise the significant annual economic benefits forecast for the UK from CAV deployment by 2030 and drive the vision of safe, convenient and accessible mobility for all.”
The UK holds the mantle as the first nation globally to introduce insurance legislation for autonomous vehicles, and boasts more miles of motorway, urban and rural roads where self-driving vehicles can operate, the report showed.
This technology could help improve road safety across Britain by preventing up to 47,000 accidents or collisions and saving nearly 4,000 lives over the next decade, it added.
By 2030, the SMMT report suggests that more than 400,000 new jobs could be created due to autonomous vehicle uptake, with up to 20,000 new automotive jobs also being added.
However, the organisation warned that this success “hinges” on a favourable Brexit agreement, with a ‘no deal’ Brexit potentially putting investment and safety gains at risk.
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Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said that while there has been significant investment thus far, with £500 million in R&D and £740 million in communications infrastructure, the UK Government must act quickly to ensure Britain retains “frictionless” post-Brexit relationships.
“The UK’s potential is clear. We are ahead of many rival nations but to realise these benefits we must most fast. Brexit has undermined our global reputation for political stability and it continues to devour valuable time and investment. We need the deadlock broken with ‘no deal’ categorically ruled out and a future relationship agreed that reflects the integrated nature of our industry and delivers frictionless trade.”