Connected and autonomous vehicles will transform lives, says SMMT

Connected and autonomous vehicles will improve quality of life for six in 10 people in the UK, according to new research from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A new report – Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Revolutionising Mobility in Society – says that the technology will help more people get out and about, offering freedom to some of society’s most disadvantaged, including those with disabilities, older people and young people.

Although fully connected and autonomous vehicles are not expected to become mainstream until around 2030, the technology is advancing all the time: most new cars are now connected via sat-nav or Bluetooth, and more than half are available with safety systems such as collision warning or autonomous emergency braking.

Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting arm, surveyed over 3,600 people for the study. Stress-free driving was seen as the biggest benefit, with automatic braking and parking and the car’s ability to self-diagnose faults cited as key attractions of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Connected entertainment features such as music and video streaming were highly rated by young people in particular, alongside the freedom to travel spontaneously and socialise with friends and family.

Almost half (49%) of people with mobility-related disabilities said that the new automotive technology would allow them to pursue hobbies outside of home and two fifths (39%) said they would benefit from having better access to healthcare. SMMT also noted that, with car ownership lower in this group than the average population, autonomous driving offers the potential to access education and better paid jobs.

Older people are also set to benefit from self-driving cars, with almost a third having problems walking or using a bus and many unable to drive due to ill-health, poor eyesight or prohibitive insurance.

“The benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are life-changing, offering more people greater independence, freedom to socialise, work and earn more, and access services more easily,” commented SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “The challenge now is to create the conditions that will allow this technology to thrive, given how it will deliver wider societal advantages.”

A recent report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee – Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The Future? – urged the Government to commission social and economic research into the implications and benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles, and to prepare for the deployment of fully-automated road vehicles.

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