SANTA CLARA, CA: Driverless cars and smart city technologies will enable a new "Passenger Economy" to evolve, which is expected to be worth $7tr by 2050.

That is the conclusion of a new study from tech company Intel, which is investing heavily in the field of autonomous vehicles and worked with research firm Strategy Analytics to examine future trends.

According to the analysis, new driverless capabilities and other technologies will gradually reconfigure entire industries and invent new ones thanks to the time they will save people.

With autonomously operated vehicle commercialisation expected to really take off by 2040, the study predicts the economic potential eventually to be worth $7tr by 2050 from just $800bn in 2035.

More than half (55%) of the total, or $3.7tr, is expected to come from consumer use of mobility as a service, with another $3tr (43%) generated from business use of mobility as a service.

A further $200bn is expected to be generated from rising consumer use of new innovative applications and services that will emerge as pilotless vehicle services expand and evolve.

And quite apart from the huge sums involved, other benefits include the freeing up of more than 250m hours of people's commuting time per year in the most congested cities in the world.

In addition, an estimated 585,000 lives could be saved from 2035 to 2045 while £234bn could be saved in public safety costs associated with traffic accidents over the same decade.

Commenting on the findings, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, said: "Companies should start thinking about their autonomous strategy now. 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."

Data sourced from Intel; additional content by WARC Staff