to a new study commissioned by Intel and conducted by Strategy Analytics, as consumers transition from driving their cars to being driven by them, it will create something the firms are calling the "passenger economy."
And it could be worth over $7 trillion by 2050. That's a very long way off, but even if autonomous driving technological developments continue at their current pace, by 2035, 15 years after the first self-driving cars from mainstream manufacturers are expected to make their production debut, the passenger economy will be a huge $800 billion income stream.
"Companies should start thinking about their autonomous strategy now," said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. "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."
As for how the two firms have arrived at the huge financial figures the economy will represent, they estimate that mobility-as-a-service, be it ride hailing, ride sharing or car sharing, will generate $3.7 trillion in revenues within the next 30 years, solely among consumers.
And when people who would have traditionally had their hands on the wheel have their hands on a mobile device, instead, Intel believes that new apps and services aimed at riders will generate upwards of $200 billion a year.
The report paints a picture of a future utopia where in the US alone, consumers will be $900 billion better off because they no longer need to buy, insure or maintain their own car. Local government will save a combined $234 billion that would have had to be invested in public safety initiatives and systems aimed at curbing traffic accidents. What's more, with no need to park a car, new spaces for commerce, entertainment and relaxation can be built instead, reshaping the urban landscape forever.
"Autonomous technology will drive change across a range of industries and define a new landscape, the first green shoots of which will appear in the business-to-business sector," said study co-author Harvey Cohen, president, Strategy Analytics. "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."
It will also cut congestion and pollution on many major routes, giving back time lost to commuting to many around the world. And, once the technology becomes both proven and affordable to all, Intel expects to see mobile restaurants, clinics and beauty salons spring up that come to the customer's door. But that's just the start, and part of the point of the study is to fire up people's imaginations in order to truly seize a moment that is as significant as the space race in terms of our modern history. "[It] is a rallying cry to the world to put its best minds on this challenge," said Greg Lindsay, and mobility futurist. "The future of mobility, economic advancement and the emergence of new growth opportunities like the Passenger Economy demand ongoing dialogue."