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Freeing the road: Shaping the future for autonomous vehicles

01 December 2016
Freeing the road: Shaping the future for autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have long 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.

This week in Barcelona, Policy Network launched a major new report Freeing the Road: Shaping the Future for Autonomous Vehicles, prepared with support from Nissan Europe. A rapid read of the report is available too.

The study 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 boost 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 so far 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.

Watch a summary of the key findings:


More on autonomous vehicles:

The economics of autonomous drive: Making the benefits count for everyone


Politicians must organise a positive and honest public discourse on the potential benefits of autonomous cars

Oslo has a bold vision to become the greenest and most open city in Europe


New technology such as autonomous vehicles must serve a common good if people are to accept it in their daily life

Autonomous cars: Could German efforts to race ahead be counterproductive?


The success of autonomous driving requires international not national solutions

How can UK manufacturing capitalise on the drive towards autonomous cars?


The UK government’s new industrial strategy may create a propitious climate for the development of self-driving vehicles, but there could also be pitfalls ahead

Political inaction risks jeopardising Spain’s head start on autonomous cars


Spain’s political deadlock may finally be over, but more regulatory steps need to be taken to cement the country’s position as a leader on autonomous driving technology


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