Driverless Cars Could Increase Reliance on Roads

google self driving carDriverless vehicles could intensify car use — reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits, a new study finds:

  • A 5 to 60 percent increase in car energy consumption due to people choosing to use highly automated cars in situations where they would have previously taken alternative transport (e.g., trains).
  • People who currently find it difficult or impossible to drive, such as the elderly or some people with disabilities, will have increased access to road transport with the advent of the new systems, resulting in an estimated 2 to 10 percent increase in road energy use for personal travel.
  • Possible higher speed limits because of the improved safety of autonomous cars (7 to 22 percent) and demand for heavy extra equipment in driverless cars such as TV screens and computers (0 to 11 percent) might also tend to reduce efficiency savings.

Read more: Help or hindrance? The travel, energy and carbon impacts of highly automated vehicles, Transportation Research, Volume 83, April 2016. Summary: Driverless cars could increase reliance on roads. Via Picture: Google. Previously: Self-driving cars: A coming congestion disaster?