Study: Self-Driving Electric Cabs
Self-driving cars are the future of transportation. Companies like Google and Uber are all chomping at the bit to get their versions of the autonomous vehicles on the road. We at Social Underground even had a 3-part series on the future prospects of the autonomous vehicles, but a recent study is furthering the need for not just autonomous vehicles, but electric self-driving electric cabs. A study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows not only will the majority of cabs will be autonomous, but they will also help the environment and help your wallet.
Driverless taxis could mean both lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower costs, according to the study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. However, the study is looking 15 years into the future and assumes electric battery vehicles will be widely used.
The study found that a self-driving, electric taxi in 2030 would produce 90 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) than a 2014 gasoline-powered privately-owned vehicle, and 63 to 82 percent fewer GHG than a 2030 privately-owned vehicle with a hybrid engine.
The study by Berkeley Lab scientists Jeffrey Greenblatt and Samveg Saxena was originally published in Nature Climate Change.
The cost savings would come from operating vehicles without a driver, and from lower fuel and maintenance expenses. (Via Driverless Transportation)
A 90% lowering of greenhouse emissions is a pretty huge deal when it comes to what cars spit into the atmosphere. In most major cities, people don’t own a car and use cabs to get around. Add in the amount of taxis and public transportation into a condensed area with a high population, and you get a skyline that looks like this:
When you think about most trips that you take in your car, you don’t really take trips with 4-5 people on your average trek to the store or to work. You’re travelling by yourself, and by doing this, you’re adding more pollution into the air. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study took this into account and predicts that the future fleet of cabs will be equipped to handle only a small amount of passengers.
First, this future fleet would be ‘right-sized’ and made up of much smaller vehicles capable of carrying only one or two passengers.
“Most trips in the U.S. are taken singly, meaning one- or two-seat cars would satisfy most trips,” Greenblatt said. “That gives us a factor of two savings, since smaller vehicles means reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.”
The researchers also assumed that their future fleet would be made up of electric vehicles as that is the most cost-effective engine-type for vehicles driven 40,00 to 70,000 miles a year, typical for a taxi.
Electric vehicles are more expensive to purchase but cheaper to operate over time due to savings on fuel and maintenance.
The researchers estimated that 800,000 driverless electric taxis on the road in 2030 would cut gasoline demand by about 7 million barrels of oil per year, and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by between 2.1 and 2.4 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
This would be a major benefit to the average person’s expenses each week, and most importantly, it will take out all the added pollutants each day put out from thousands and thousands of taxis burning fossil fuels each year. Hopefully this study proves to be correct and we’ll be able to see through the smog on a sunny day in every major city.
(Source: Driverless Transportation)
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