How will connected and self-driving vehicles improve the lives of both ourselves and our families during the festive period? We’ve gazed into our crystal ball, peering into the future to tackle 4 key questions that will provide you an insight of how the UK’s self-driving revolution will impact Christmas as we currently know it. 

      1. How will the time taken to ‘drive home for Christmas’, be impacted by self-driving vehicles?

Why does the last week before Christmas always seem the longest? We all know the feeling – trying to tie up any loose ends at work, whilst pushing back unnecessary tasks and meetings until the new year. Anything to minimise the stress now to get us on the road, driving home for Christmas.

The time taken to drive home could soon be reduced. Recent research suggests that by 2030, average speeds could increase up to 20%, potentially saving a commuter 42 hours per year on average in time previously spent driving!

More importantly, connected and self-driving vehicles are expected to greatly increase the reliability of journey times. In other words, they are likely to reduce the uncertainty of how long a journey might take, giving confidence that you will be home in time for Christmas – reducing stress and helping you get in the festive spirit sooner.

For journey time reliability, research from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggests these benefits will be felt with relatively low levels of self-driving vehicle penetration – a 30-80% increase in reliability with at just a 25% level of connected and self-driving vehicles on our roads.

The real-life impact of this means you will be able to spend time with your family sooner and for longer, meaning that last week (or month it may feel!) you spent in the workplace, was more than worth the wait.

      2. How will the elderly be more connected during the Christmas holidays?

The world’s population is getting older. And as we get older, it becomes more difficult to move from destination to destination. This is largely due to constraints to our bodies, which impacts how accessible transport is to us, often limiting our options and leaving us with no viable route to travel from A-to-B. This is particularly problematic during the festive period.

Age UK estimates that approximately 200,000 elderly people will spend Christmas alone this year – a day where transport services can be rather limited. Over 1.5 million elderly people are likely to consider this festive period as the loneliest time of year and this number could rise in the future. It is an unfortunate reality, brought ironically by one of the biggest reasons to celebrate in the calendar year.

By mid-2030 it is estimated there will be over 15 million people of pension age (1 in 5 people) in the UK.  Clearly, mobility needs to extend beyond that of the elderly as currently there are approximately 7 million people in the UK with a mobility disability with almost half below the state pension age.

Connected and self-driving vehicles present an opportunity to help the elderly (and all with mobility issues), particularly during this time of year, by providing the services to enable families to connect more easily at Christmas.

      3. How can self-driving technology solve the challenge caused by alcohol consumption in the festive period?

You’d be forgiven for thinking the hardest thing to organise at Christmas is the presents. For some families, it’s deciding who the designated driver is!

A designated driver is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as: “one person in a group who agrees not to drink alcohol in order to drive the other people to and from a place where they will drink alcohol.”

The problem is, it’s Christmas and nobody in the family is volunteering. It’s a sticky situation – but fear not, the classic game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ will not be needed in the future. In time, we will have fully connected and self-driving vehicles to lift the burden.

SMMT estimate that connected and self-driving vehicles will save 3,900 lives and prevent 47,000 serious accidents between 2019 and 2030. The reality of this will ensure we can embrace the festive period with the entire family able to enjoy a responsible number of alcoholic units, whilst knowing we have an accessible, reliable and safe method of transport home.

      4. How will self-driving vehicles allow presents to be delivered faster?

With the dawn of connected and self-driving vehicles, ever-more intelligent network management can be employed to deal with peaks in demand for freight and logistics applications.

Companies will be able to manage their logistics fleet more intelligently, because everything will be connected. There will be mass data available on how certain delivery patterns work best across a variety of different variables, for example day and night, or geographically.

Fully automated delivery will also mean night time delivery can become prevalent. Companies would therefore be able to make better use of time, thus freeing up roads and  increasing their capacity to ‘deliver’ (mind the pun!) during the festive period.

       The route to 2030 

To see the route to how we will be (self) driving home for Christmas over the next decade, you can explore the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 here. 

The roadmap is a tool, created by and intended for multiple sectors, forging new relationships and achieving collaboration across industries. With a single vision of interdependencies, the roadmap addresses developments needed to achieve connected and automated mobility (CAM) at scale by 2030.

The Zenzic team wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year