Tomorrow's Economy

Freeing the road

30 November 2016

Shaping the Future for Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles (AV) have longed seemed like something from Tomorrow’s World – a technological development that politicians, regulators and policymakers could put off thinking about until long into the future. Now, with the first mass market AVs set to roll off the production line, Europe’s policymakers must fast catch up with technological and commercial reality.

AVs not only have the potential to fundamentally reshape Europe’s strategically vital automotive industry; they will change how citizens interact with motor vehicles, transform patterns of connectivity, and offer social and environmental benefits to the whole of society. The future vision is of a driverless, safer and more efficient transport system that will connect individuals and businesses throughout Europe.

European countries are beginning to engage with the changes that AVs will bring. However, to reap the benefits of the new transport technology, leadership will be needed at all levels to maximise the potential of AVs in the 21st century.

This major new report, prepared with support from Nissan Europe, examines the regulatory landscape across Europe, with particular focus on the key markets of Germany, Spain and the UK.

It finds that the economic and social benefits could be huge – if policymakers get it right a successful transition to autonomous drive could deliver up to a €17tn to the EU 28 economy by 2050.

But that remains a big ‘if’. Making that transition will require a more rigorous response from European policy-making institutions at the EU, national, regional and city level than has yet been seen.

Freeing the Road sets out a dozen concrete policy recommendations that will need to be adopted to ensure the benefits of AVs are felt by the whole of society.

A rapid-read version of this comprehensive study is available here.