The Gulf region will see a "steady introduction" of autonomous vehicles in the next three years but will also suffer big increases in cybercrime, according to consultants Deloitte.
In a report predicting 2017 technological breakthroughs in the region, Deloitte said the initial launch will include cars which are not fully driverless but connected and assisted, exchanging valuable road information within current networks.
Following the launch of 5G in 2021, Deloitte said it predicts that driverless technology adoption will grow exponentially until all vehicles will be capable of driving autonomously 20 years later.
"5G will enable vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity technology by lowering costs, battery consumption and latency for all machine-to-machine communication applications," the report said.
Deloitte also warned that the Middle East should be on higher alert than the rest of the world as it will see an increase in the frequency and intensity of cyber incidents across all attack vectors.
"We predict that Middle East residences and institutions are twice as likely to encounter malware when compared to the global average... will potentially suffer an additional $130 million in costs related to cyber-crime in 2017," it said.
It added that the average mobile internet speeds in some of the GCC countries will reach 30 Mb/s by the end of 2017 and around 50 Mb/s by 2018.
By end of 2017, over 40 carriers regionally are likely to offer LTE-Advanced and over 10 should have LTE-Advanced Pro networks, Deloitte said.
It added that it expects 5G to be launched in its pre-standard form starting 2019 in specific regions within the GCC and a large-scale commercial rollout to the wider metropolitan areas by 2020.
Deloitte Middle East also predicts that connected entertainment such as video streaming, smart TVs and wireless speakers and connected health devices will continue their upward surge by growing in revenues at an average of 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively in the GCC in 2017.
"There has been, so far, limited take-up of connected home appliances such as smart thermostat, lighting, and home appliances in the GCC. We believe that this segment will still witness a slow increase in adoption on the back of new product launches, and the implementation of energy efficiency policies by local authorities," the report noted.
Deloitte also predicts that blockchain will find widespread use in the GCC, where it will find uptake in the public sector potentially saving $3.5 billion in leakages over the next couple of years, by using blockchain-based identity management for the disbursement of social welfare.
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