Researchers from Berkeley have found that we would be enjoying several benefits if we were to replace human-driven taxis with autonomous, self driving taxis.
Not only would these smart vehicles reduce the emission of greenhouse gases per mile, and offer much needed help in the fight against global warming, but it turns out that such a scenario would be very cost effective too.
It’s worth mentioning that this particular future may not be as far away as one might think as many automakers, as well as various companies (Google being the most noticeable one) are actively working on developing and implementing the technology.
Experts over at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say that self driving taxis in 2030 would reduce per mile greenhouse gas emission by as much as 90 percent (90%) when compared to today’s typical gasoline-powered car, and by somewhere between 63 percent (63%) to 82 percent (82%) when compared to hybrid cars.
About half of the savings are due to “right-sizing”, which means that the size of each taxi that’s being deployed, is being tailored to suit the occupancy needs of each trip.
Jeffery Greenblatt, one of the scientists working on the project, gave a statement saying that when he and his colleagues first began to look at autonomous vehicles, they discovered that using these autonomous vehicles in a shared transit system “seemed to be the biggest lever that pointed to lower energy use per mile”.
Right-sizing would not only help fleet owners save money, but also passengers. Both automakers and companies are considering not only designing four (4) seat self driving vehicles, but also two (2) seat vehicles, and ever one (1) seat vehicles that would consume less energy and emit a lower level of greenhouse gasses.
Greenblatt also shared that most trips are taken singly in the US, so there is a very real market for these smaller vehicles.
But the size of the smart vehicles isn’t the only element that facilitates the emission of fewer greenhouse gases. Autonomous taxis will also benefit from cleaner electric grids by the year 2013, as experts expect power plants to start using more renewable energy, which in turn means that autonomous taxis will emit greenhouse gases that will be of a lower intensity.
On the economic front, the researchers say that a car that’s driven somewhere between 40.000 and 70.000 miles per year, the case of a typical US taxi, is more cost effective if it’s powered by an alternative fuel such as an electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell.
However, when it comes to owning a personal car that’s only driven roughly 12.000 miles per year, the researchers admit that it would much cheaper to still have a gasoline-powered car.
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