Volvo autonomous driverDriverless cars may sound like tech for the future but new research from the SMMT has revealed 1.5 million new British cars are already fitted with semi-autonomous ‘driverless’ technology.

Such autonomous safety tech, which includes collision warning, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, takes over from the driving in safety-critical situations – and the tech behind it is also the same used by fully self-driving cars.

The new research thus shows the building blocks of the driverless car is already sitting on the driveways of 1.5 million new car owners. And uptake continues to grow.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Fully driverless cars are still a long way off from everyday use, but this data shows advanced autonomous technology is already making its way into the majority of new cars.

“Connected and autonomous cars will transform our society – vastly improving safety and reducing congestion and emissions – and will contribute billions to the economy.”

Driverless car boom

Uptake of autonomous new car tech is rapidly growing. Five years ago, less than 7% of new cars sold featured a collision warning system either as standard or a fitted option. Today, that figure has grown to more than 58%.

More than 1 in 3 new cars has blind spot monitoring and more than 30% have adaptive cruise control.

Such autonomous safety tech will have a big impact on road safety. Research by the SMMT suggests that serious accidents could fall by 25,000 a year by 2030 – and 2,500 lives could be saved every year.

Autonomous tech will also give a huge boost to the economy, predicts the SMMT: the annual saving to consumers could be as high as £40 billion, it believes.