The report also highlights the key steps that need to be taken by governments and regulators to overcome technological and social challenges of autonomous drive
Nissan has commissioned a new report that looks at the financial and social impact of autonomous vehicles on European roads.
Freeing the Road: Shaping the future for autonomous vehicles written by think tank Policy Network, analyses the social and economic opportunities of autonomous drive technologies and highlights key steps that need to be taken by governments and regulators to overcome technological and social challenges of autonomous driving.
Focusing on Germany, Spain and the UK – the report highlights crucial features of the policy debate around autonomous vehicles and assesses the likely economic impact for the region as a whole.
An independent piece of research, Nissan had no editorial control over the content.
Economic analysis from the report shows that autonomous vehicles will start adding 0.15 percent to Europe’s annual growth rate in the decades to come. As a result, the European (EU-28) gross domestic product will, cumulatively, be 5.3 percent higher in the year 2050 than currently, by which time autonomous vehicles will have contributed a total of €17tn to GDP.
Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, said: “This independent report highlights that we are in the midst of a social and economic revolution. It shows that autonomous technology will have a fundamental impact not just on the automotive industry but across European economies and societies and it suggests that leadership within all levels of government is needed.
“At Nissan we believe, for the full benefits of autonomous drive technologies to be realised, governments and municipalities across Europe should review the report’s findings, work hand in hand with the automotive industry, and play a vital role in ushering in this new technological era.”
Supporting the report is a pan-European consumer study that has identified what people see as the main benefits of autonomous driving. The Nissan Social Index: Consumer attitudes to autonomous drive surveyed 6,000 adults across six European countries – UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Norway.
The study revealed that the vulnerable in society had most to gain from autonomous drive technologies, with disabled people (57 per cent), the elderly (34 per cent) and the visually impaired (33 per cent) mentioned by the majority of Europeans.
With a growing elderly population, there is concern that lack of access to mobility solutions could lead to isolation and increased dependency on the goodwill of others, posing huge problems for the state. Autonomous vehicles could provide a solution to this ticking time bomb, providing a renewed sense of freedom through increased mobility.
Survey respondents also saw multiple benefits for their health and well being too. The report revealed fewer car accidents and lower stress levels were rated as the top health benefits of autonomous cars by 56 per cent of respondents. Other health benefits included fewer hit and run accidents (39 per cent) and more free time (30 per cent), suggesting the technology could reduce the rise in anxiety and stress-related disorders by giving people back precious time and reducing time spent navigating stressful road situations.
Respondents were clear that the potential safety benefits of autonomous drive cars would have the biggest impact on the world. Over half of respondents (52 per cent) believed autonomous cars could reduce the number of accidents caused by human error, 43 per cent felt it would get unsafe drivers off the road and 34 per cent believed it would lead to fewer drunk drivers on the road.
Four out of five respondents (81 per cent) claim to have multi-tasked while driving. 68 per cent of people confessed to changing the radio station and 42 per cent revealed they have eaten a meal or snack whilst driving. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the main lifestyle benefit of autonomous cars is seen as the ability to do something other than driving when in the car (50 per cent). Reading books or catching up on news is what most of Europe said they’d do with their extra time in the car (37 per cent) followed by sleeping (33 per cent), getting work done (30 per cent) and watching TV or films (20 per cent).
Nearly half of the respondents (48 per cent) said the biggest disadvantage of autonomous cars was the possibility of the technology not working, followed by not having full control of the vehicle (39 per cent) and putting people like taxi drivers out of a job (28 per cent). However, one in four (23 per cent) of those planning to buy a car in the next five years would consider buying an autonomous one.
Willcox added: “What’s clear from the research published today is that political decisions makers across Europe need to prioritise autonomous vehicle policies to create a favorable environment that will see this technology flourish. The customers want it, and are starting to see the benefits of an autonomous future, but we need the right legislative environment to enable this exciting new era of mobility to thrive.
“We strongly advocate that policy makers continue to work collaboratively with industry, so that together we can ensure that the many social and economic benefits highlighted today are made a reality in Europe.”
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