Added: 04 April 2017

Autonomous cars 

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles will offer more freedom to some of society’s most disadvantaged people – including those with disabilities, the elderly and the young – a new study has claimed.

The research found that CAVs have the potential to significantly reduce social exclusion, with 57% of the people surveyed saying that this new technology would improve their quality of life. 

For young people, the impact could be even greater, with 71% of those aged 17 to 24 believing their lives would be improved and 49% saying they would get into a CAV today if one were available.

People with mobility-related disabilities are also among those set to benefit, with 49% saying a CAV would allow them to pursue hobbies outside of the home, or go out to restaurants more often (46%), and 39% saying they would benefit from having better access to healthcare. 

Older people are set to benefit too.  Some 47% said a CAV would make it easier for them to fulfil basic day-to-day tasks such as grocery shopping, while 45% looked forward to pursuing more cultural activities such as visiting museums ad going to concerts or football matches.  In addition, adults in this group are nearly three times as likely as the rest of the population to lack a formal qualification, and are less likely to be in paid employment.  With car ownership lower in this group than the average population, CAVs offer the potential to access education and better-paid jobs.

Automatic braking and parking, and the car’s ability to self-diagnose faults, were cited as features most likely to reduce stress  – the biggest attraction of owning a CAV for those who took part in the survey.  Freedom to travel spontaneously and socialise with friends and family were also seen as life-changing benefits.

“Connected and autonomous vehicles offer more people greater independence; freedom to socialise, work and earn more; and access services more easily,” said Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, which published the research.  “While fully autonomous cars will be a step change for society, this report shows that people are already seeing their benefits.  The challenge now is to create the conditions that will allow this technology to thrive, given how it will deliver wider societal advantages.”

Although fully connected and autonomous vehicles aren’t expected to become mainstream until 2030, most new cars are now connected via sat nav or Bluetooth, and more than half are available with safety systems such as collision warning or autonomous emergency braking.