Self-driving cars could create an entirely new $7 trillion ‘passenger economy’

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  • Intel, the global tech giant that recently revealed it plans to invest $250 million in the development of self-driving cars and has partnered with BMW and Mobileye to get a fleet of around 40 autonomous vehicles on the roads by the second half of 2017, has published a new report that predicts self-driving cars will create an entirely new, $7 trillion dollar ‘passenger economy’ by 2050.

    The research report, ‘Accelerating the Future: The Economic Impact of the Emerging Passenger Economy’, considers the economic potential that could be generated when time and cognitive load is freed up by autonomous vehicles.

    Intel suggests that self-driving vehicles will free up more than 250 million hours of commuting time each year in the most congested cities in the world, a dramatic change in human productivity that could “reconfigure entire industries”.

    These vehicles will also lead to a wide range of new business models, according to Intel, including Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), which is forecast to generate $3 trillion in revenues by 2050.

    Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, said: “Companies should start thinking about their autonomous strategy now. Less than a decade ago, no one was talking about the potential of a soon-to-emerge app or sharing economy, because no one saw it coming.

    “This is why we started the conversation around the Passenger Economy early, to wake people up to the opportunity streams that will emerge when cars become the most powerful mobile data generating devices we use and people swap driving for riding.”

    According to Harvey Cohen, president of Strategy Analytics, a research firm that partnered with Intel to create the new report, the first sectors that will be revolutionised by autonomous vehicles will be delivery services and long-haul transportation: “The emergence of pilotless vehicle options will first appear in developed markets and will reinvent the package delivery and long-haul transportation sectors. This will relieve driver shortages around the world and account for two-thirds of initial projected revenues.”

    The research report also forecasts that self-driving cars could save as many as 585,000 lives between 2035 and 2045, because autonomous vehicles always obey speed limits and other rules of the road, and never get distracted.

    Intel, which has its European headquarters in Leixlip, County Kildare, and employs more than 4,000 people across the island of Ireland, recently acquired a self-driving car startup for a hue sum ($15.3 billion, to be precise), giving some indication of just how committed Intel is to the autonomous vehicle sector.

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