Driverless cars 'to boost UK economy'
Driverless cars will help generate more than 300,000 jobs in the UK, according to new figures from the motor industry's trade association.
Introducing driverless and connected cars will also boost the economy by £51 billion, and help to reduce serious road traffic accidents by more than 25,000 a year by 2030, says a report carried out by auditor KPMG.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) will today announce the figures at the first ever SMMTConnected event, where for the first time in the UK the motor industry will gather to discuss the potential of autonomous vehicles.
Last month, the UK became the first country in the world to launch government-funded trials of driverless technology, with tests currently being piloted in six locations around the country including Greenwich, Bristol and Milton Keynes.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Connected and autonomous cars will transform our roads and the way our society functions for generations to come, dramatically reducing accidents and helping to deliver more than £50 billion to our economy.
"The KPMG report clearly shows the UK automotive industry is leading the way in developing the cars of the future and that it will act as a catalyst for wider economic benefits that will create more than 300,000 jobs by 2030. The UK must grasp the opportunities ahead and ensure it is continually at the forefront of pushing through these next breakthrough technologies."
Transport minister Robert Goodwill, who will attend the event along with the minister for the digital economy Ed Vaizey, said that investment in new technology such as driverless cars was vital to the UK's future.
"New technology is fundamental to Government's ambitious vision for our roads," he said.
"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."
Autonomous technology from several manufacturing heavyweights will be on show, including BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Both BMW and Mercedes are already working on connected and driverless software, with both having shown demonstrations of their products at the CES technology show in Las Vegas in January.
BMW's includes a valet system that will see your vehicle drive to your location when you "call" it from a smartwatch.
Mike Bell, global connected car director at Jaguar Land Rover, said: "The potential of the connected car is huge. It is certainly one of our top priorities and we are making a significant investment in the technology, skills and partnerships to make this a reality.
"Jaguar Land Rover is taking a leading role and is actively embracing the connected car. We have huge potential to ensure the car has a prominent role in the Internet of Things, which will enhance the driving experience and make driving smarter, safer and even cleaner in the years to come."
Last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced that £200 million would be invested by government, and matched by business, into driverless research, development and deployment in the UK.
Technology giant Google is currently carrying out its trials in the US, with speculation that iPhone maker Apple may enter the field too.