EC exploring economic impact of autonomous driving

04 October 2019 2 min. read
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The European Commission has hired a consortium of external firms to investigate the impact of connected and automated driving on Europe’s jobs market.

Connected and automated driving, also known as autonomous driving or self-driving cars, are vehicles that can guide themselves without human intervention. Leveraging emerging technologies including connectivity, rapid spatial tracking and artificial intelligence, autonomous driving is advancing with giant leaps. Across Europe, car manufacturers and large tech firms, including Uber and Waymo (a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet) are piloting self-driving cars and trucks.

The rise of autonomous driving provides a number of major opportunities for society, business and governments. It can make the mobility system safer (by bringing down the number of road fatalities), cleaner (by reducing harmful emissions from transport and reducing congestion), more efficient (by optimising road networks and travel plans) and more user-friendly (for example, drivers can work or sleep behind the wheel). 

What is the economic impact of autonomous driving?

According to an analysis by Strategy&, autonomous vehicles could drive up to half of kilometres travelled in the European Union by 2030. Another study found that alongside safety, comfort is the main driver of uptake, with sleeping and relaxing interestingly rating as a prime attraction for autonomous driving.

From an economic perspective, automated mobility has the potential to contribute to job creation and economic growth. And if Europe manages to maintain (or even expand) the frontrunner role it currently has in the domain, then the continent is touted to reap the fruits through an enhanced competitiveness of its automotive industry. 

Detailed data on this economic impact is limited however, and in a bid to garner better insights into the matter, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission (EC) has commissioned an independent study. A research group comprising Ecorys (lead consultant), M-Five, VTT, SEURECO, TRT, ERTICO, UITP and IRU have been tapped to conduct the analysis. Financial details of the economic consulting deal have not been disclosed. 

The researchers have been given a time span of 16 months to deliver their detailed study. The findings will serve as input for European policy development.