According to a study, driverless taxis will reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 90%.

Much while ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft currently dominate the news, academics anticipate that the next automotive revolution will be even more revolutionary when self-driving cars like those produced by Google become widely available.

The kinds of lightweight electric vehicles that will be utilized for driverless automobiles by 2030, according to researchers from the US Berkeley Lab, will provide excellent gains in terms of cost efficiency while lowering global greenhouse emissions by as much as 90%.
The results, which were published this week in Nature Climate Change, almost seem too good to be true, but they are firmly grounded in science.

Their estimate shows that the per-kilometer emissions of a 2030 driverless electric car will be 90% lower than those of a 2014 gasoline-powered private car.
A driverless cab in 2030 would be significantly more energy-efficient than a privately owned hybrid car in the same year, with greenhouse gas emissions ranging from 63 to 82 percent lower. This is true even if the auto industry transitions to entirely hybrid vehicles in the coming years.

The figures might appear astounding, but when you consider how very inefficiently we now use the majority of the automobiles on the road, they begin to mount up.

The size of the car comes first.
Not including specialized models like two-seater sports cars or tiny vehicles like the Smart line, even though most of the time there is only one passenger in the car, almost every car on the market has at least five seats.
Carpooling is popular in theory, but few people follow through. As a result, vast numbers of people are transported in mostly empty cars that consume more gas than is necessary.

In addition to functional concerns, people also purchase cars for emotional and aesthetic reasons, so you end up with many large, bulky vehicles that very few people truly require.
We’ve all heard the story about the guy who purchases an SUV but never drives it outside of the cleanly kept city lanes.

For example, if you’re the only passenger, a one-seater will do, or perhaps a two-seater if you need extra space for things like luggage or shopping, the researcher’s calculated savings are based on the idea of “right-sizing,” where the size of the driverless vehicle you hop into is perfectly suited to your needs for that journey.

Right-sizing is only one part of the solution, though.
The estimated future structure of power generation must also be considered to arrive at the Berkeley Lab’s predicted emissions figures.
The researchers factored into their calculations the fact that by 2030, power plants should be employing more renewable energy sources and creating less pollution (at least, that’s the theory, right?). This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The best part, then?
Other benefits and advancements that driverless cars are expected to bring include improved acceleration and braking, more efficient route navigation, and “platooning,” in which autonomous vehicles follow one another closely to reduce wind resistance.

Jeffery Greenblatt, a co-author of the study, noted that while each of these changes is little, they all build up over time.
We still save a lot of money without them, though, because we didn’t even factor these effects into our baseline findings.

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