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(THE CONVERSATION). Self driving car technology has been tantalizingly elusive for many years. Bold predictions asideFully automated vehicles have yet to make their way into showrooms. The technology is poised to take a leap forward in 2022.
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Companies include Mercedes-Benz, BMW HondaLevel 3 AVs, which allow drivers to operate the vehicle under certain conditions, are being introduced to market. Virtually all major auto manufacturers are currently testing self-driving vehicles.
Automated vehicles offer great promise. Autos that are automated Most or all of the driving duties can be handledCould be safer than human drivers, operate more efficiently, and offer new opportunities for seniors, disabled people, and others who are unable to drive. However, attention is important. Safety is our main focusAutomated vehicles are unlikely to have any negative environmental impact.
We study Automated vehicle technologies How consumers will likely use them. Our research teams have found two creative ways to assess real-life environmental impacts of automated vehicles in two recent studies.
We were able to analyze the driving habits of partially-automated vehicles and simulate the impact of future driverless vehicles. Our results showed that both types of automated vehicles will encourage more driving. This will increase transportation-related pollution and traffic congestion, unless regulators take steps to make car travel less appealing.
More miles means more carbon emissions
Research has suggested that automated cars could encourage people to drive more than usual. More congestion, more energy consumption and more pollution. Passenger riding in a car is less stressful than driving. People might be more willing to endure longer trips and deal with more traffic if they have the opportunity to relax and do other things along the way. People could move further away from their jobs if they have a comfortable commute to work. This could help accelerate the growth of suburban sprawl.
People would also be able send their cars on zero-occupancy trips or to run errands alone. If you don’t want to pay for parking downtown you might be able to send the car home while you are at work and have it summoned when you need it. It’s convenient, but twice as much driving.
This could become a major problem. Transportation is already The United States is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. California, for example, has made it clear that they are pursuing aggressive climate change mitigation plans. Reducing the miles people drive by using less vehiclesThis is a crucial strategy. What if automated vehicles technology makes it more difficult to achieve these goals.
The real-world environmental impact of automated cars
We and other researchers have These outcomes were predicted by modelingHowever, they have not been verified by anyone because fully automated vehicles aren’t yet commercially accessible. We discovered two innovative ways to make use of currently available technologies to study real-world effects of automated cars.
We surveyed 940 people in a mid-2021 study. Autonomous drivers. Systems like Teslas AutopilotThey can help with driving tasks and reduce the driving burden, but to a lesser extent than fully automated vehicles.
Autopilot users drove an average of 3.2 miles per hour, according to our research. Nearly 5,000 miles more per year than those who did not. 36 partially automated vehicle drivers were interviewed and stated that they were more willing than ever to travel long distances and would sit more often in traffic. Increased comfort and lower stressSemi-automated systems provide this service.
In a separate study, we also simulated the operation of a fully-automated vehicle by providing 43 households with a chauffeur service in Sacramento, California to take over driving duties. We tracked how they used the service. These households Their vehicle miles traveled increased by 60%Their pre-chauffeur travel was significantly reduced, as they significantly reduced their use transit, bicycling, and walking. More than half of the rise in vehicle travel involved chauffeurs traveling on zero-occupancy trips with no household members.
Automatic car use is reducing pollution
These results show that partially-automated vehicles are driving more now than they were in the past. Is it possible to reap the benefits of these vehicles without making climate change, air pollution, and congestion worse?
Future automated vehicles should use zero-emission technology As California is doingIt can be a great help. However, until the U.S. develops, a 100% carbon-free electricity systemEven electric cars can produce some upstream emissions from power plants. All car travel is harmful Other harmful effects, such as water, air pollution, tire wear, collisions, wildlife, and traffic congestion.
To stop an explosion in driving and the associated harms, regulators need to signal to communities that driving isn’t free. They could set a price for car travel, particularly on zero-occupancy trip.
The most important policies that have this effect are currently Federal and state fuel taxesFuel taxes currently average at around 49 cents per gal for gasoline and 55c per gallon diesel fuel. However, the impact of fuel taxes will decrease on drivers behavior as electric vehicles are more widely adopted. This means that transportation will need to find new funding mechanisms to cover ongoing costs such as maintaining roads.
State and federal governments could introduce user fees or charges to pay for the number of miles drivers drive instead of fuel taxes. Correctly pricing private vehicle travel costs could encourage travelers to use less expensive and more efficient modes of transportation, such as walking or bicycling.
These fees can be adjusted depending on location, such as charging more to drive into densely populated areas or other factors like time of day, traffic congestion levels and vehicle occupancy. Modern communication technology can track where and when cars are driving on the roads to enable such policies.
Another option is to promote shared fleets rather than privately-owned automated vehicles. These vehicles can be seen as commercial companies, similar in concept to Uber, Lyft or other ride-sharing companies. A car that is available at all times could allow you to avoid car ownership. It could also make it easier to serve travel demand by acting as on-demand transportation. These networks could also be used to help riders access fixed-route public transport services that operate along main transportation corridors.
These policies will be most effective when they are implemented now before automated vehicles become widespread. We believe that a transportation future that is automated and electric and shared can be environmentally sustainable. However, this scenario is unlikely to happen on its own.
This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. You can read the original article here. https://theconversation.com/driverless-cars-wont-be-good-for-the-environment-if-they-lead-to-more-auto-use-173819.
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