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Driverless cars are not good for the environment if they lead to more auto use

Driverless cars are not good for the environment if they lead to more auto use

A car approaches an overhead billboard displaying time of day and prices for cars and trucks to enter the regulated zone.

Self-driving car technology has been tantalizingly elusive for many years. Bold predictions notwithstandingFully automated vehicles are still not in showrooms. However, technology looks poised to make a big leap in 2022.

Companies include Mercedes-Benz, BMWAnd HondaLevel 3 AVs are being introduced to market, which will allow drivers to take control of the wheel under certain conditions. Virtually every major auto manufacturer is currently testing self-driving systems.

Automated vehicles have great potential. Autos that are automated Most or all of the driving duties can be handledThey could be safer than human drivers and operate more efficiently, opening up new opportunities to seniors, people with disabilities, and other people who can’t drive. While attention is understandable, Safety is our main focusAutomated vehicles are unlikely to have any negative environmental impact.

We study Automated vehicle technologyAnd How consumers are likely to 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 Carbon Emissions, More Mileage

Research has suggested that automated cars could encourage people to drive more than usual. More congestion, energy consumption, and pollution. It is less stressful to ride in a car as a passenger than driving. This means that people may be willing to take longer trips and fight more traffic if there are other activities they can do during the trip. A comfortable, relaxed commute to work could encourage people to move further from their workplaces and help accelerate suburban sprawl trends.

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. Convenient, but twice as much driving.

This could become a major problem. Already, the transportation sector is The leading contributor to U.S. greenhouse gases emissions. California and other states that have aggressively planned to combat climate change are examples of this. Reducing the miles people drive by using less vehiclesThis is a crucial strategy. What if automated vehicle tech makes it more difficult to achieve these goals?

Environmental Impacts of Automated Vehicles

While we and other researchers have These outcomes were predicted by modelingThey are not yet commercially available, so no one has been capable of verifying them. Two innovative methods were found to examine the real-world impact of automated vehicles.

We surveyed 940 respondents in a study published mid-2021. Autonomous drivers. Systems like Teslas AutopilotCan assist 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. Interviews with 36 partially-automated vehicle drivers revealed that they were more willing and able to drive long distances, as well as being more willing to wait in traffic. Increased comfort and less stressSemi-automated systems are available

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 They increased their vehicle mileage by 60%They travelled significantly less than before they were chauffeured and walked a lot more. More than half the increase in vehicle travel was due to chauffeurs taking zero-occupancy trips, without any household members.

Limiting pollution from automated cars

These results show that automated vehicles will encourage more driving in the future, and that partially-automated vehicles are already doing so. Is there a way to reap the benefits of automated vehicles without making congestion, climate change, and air quality worse?

Future automated vehicles should use zero-emission technology California is doing it!It 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 has its negative effects. Other harmful effectsWater and air pollution due to tire and brake wear, collisions and wildlife encounters, and traffic congestion.

To prevent an increase in driving and other harms, regulators and communities must send signals that driving is not free. They could put a price on car travel, especially on zero-occupancy trips.

See Also

The most important policies that have this effect are currently Fuel taxes – federal and stateFuel 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 the transportation industry will need to create new funding mechanisms for ongoing expenses like road maintenance.

Instead of fuel taxes, the federal and state governments could impose user fees or charges for the mileage that drivers drive. Correctly pricing private vehicle travel can encourage travelers to look into other, more cost-effective modes of transportation such as walking and biking.

These fees can be adjusted based on where they are paid. Modern communication technologies allow for such policies by tracking the location and time of cars on the roads.

A car approaches an overhead billboard displaying time of day and prices for cars and trucks to enter the regulated zone.
Singapore uses electronic road pricing in order to reduce congestion and regulate traffic flow. The cost to enter the restricted area varies depending on location and when it is being used. Calvin Chan Wai Meng via Getty Images

Another option is to promote shared fleets rather than privately-owned automated vehicles. These vehicles could be viewed as commercial companies similar to Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing services. It could be possible to have a car on demand and serve travel demand more efficiently. These networks could be used by riders to access fixed-route public transportation services, which operate on 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, shared, and shared, could be environmentally sustainable. However, we don’t think it will evolve in that way.

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The Conversation

This article has been republished from The ConversationUnder a Creative Commons License Read the Original article.

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