Driverless cars might be scary for some, but they promise a brighter future. Robocabs, self-driven electric taxis, can provide a way to cut pollution.
The supporters of driverless cars and the enthusiasts for a futuristic car design, have advocated for year how traffic jams will become things of the past and how much safer these cars will. But we might also enjoy another important benefit once these intelligent electric cars will take to the roads. Recently, a new study found out that a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emission could be another good reason to embrace the new technology.
The study has been published recently in Nature Climate Change. Its authors estimated that vehicle emissions per mile from passenger cars and other light duty vehicles could fall by 2030 as much as 94 percent.
The launch of Google's project for self-driving cars has been received with a great deal of excitement, but no one seemed to realize how much impact these cars could have on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This made one of the co-authors of the study, Jeffrey Greenblatt, decided to take a closer look on these matters.
Samvex Saxena and Jeffrey Greenblatt developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory a "best-case scenario" model, where these self-driving cars also run on electricity. Their projections come to an estimation that even greater environmental benefits would be achieved if the driverless electric cars would be used as taxis instead of being privately owned.
Google launched his latest self-driving car this May. This two-seater is indeed a battery-operated electric compact car that functions as a taxi. Widespread electric driverless taxis could have an environmental impact so great that its magnitude has been difficult to quantify until now. Not only Google is working on projects to develop this technology and introduce shared driverless cars, but also Uber.
Up to date, it is estimated that only last year more than 100,000 electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. I these vehicles would be autonomous, the advantages in terms of cutting the greenhouse gas emissions are even greater. These benefits are compounded in case of self-driven electric cars, since their automation technology would lead to less congestion and better traffic flows. All these factors will ensure a more efficient energy use.
An self-driving electric taxi service would again help saving energy by ensuring rides' customisation in order to adapt to the transportation needs of passengers. Up to date, in the United States using shared vehicles is not a very popular idea and very few people use them. But this situation might change rapidly, since some ride-booking companies such as Uber are also developing their own robocabs in order to reduce their dependence on contract drivers.