Driverless, electric taxis for single passengers

Driverless Taxi

A study has assessed that, in the USA alone, the anual savings on fuel could reach 7 million oil barrels, while the reduction of contamination could reach 2,4 tonnes of CO2

Car manufacturers and technologic companies in the USA are working on the development of a sub-type of electric vehicles that will serve as taxis, in a very particular fashion: these vehicles will be purely electric, self-driving and designed to carry one passenger at a time. Analysts Jeffery Greenblatt and Samveg Saxena have published a study on the magazine Nature Climate Change according to which robotized, autonomous and electric vehicles could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a significant manner in the country over the next 29 years. The authors of said study estimate that these self-driving taxis could reduce the individual emission of each vehicle by almost 94% per mile driven (1,6 kilometers) if compared with the current conventional vehicles. 

Using these vehicles for transportation could, theoretically, reduce carbon emission in the transportation sector while completing more trips, planning more sustainable routes and integrating self-driving tech with fully electric engines. “When we started studying self-driving vehicles”, Greenblatt explains, “we realized that, out of all variables taken into account, the lowest mark in consumption of energy per mile came from their implementation in a public transport system”. 

Self-driving taxis could reduce the gas emissions of individual vehicles by almost 94% 

In 2030 it will be proportionally more expensive to travel using an electric vehicle (based on an estimation of 15.000 km driven per year); however, if personal vehicles start to drive longer distances, like taxis usually do, savings will become more significant. The global savings, according to the study´s predictions, would be equal to 7 million oil barrels per year, which is equivalent to the emissions reduction achieved by 1.000 2MW wind turbines.

Greenblatt and Saxena estimate that the transition to autonomous taxis could save 87 to 94% of greenhouse emissions per vehicle when compared to conventional vehicles, and 63 to 82% over hybrid vehicles, based on estimations forecasted for the year 2030. One of the most relevant variables on this forecast is the use of vehicles for single passengers, which allow for a smaller size and consumption. Nowadays, a large portion of the daily trips are carried by conventional taxis, which are also much larger than necessary. “Most of the trips carried out in the USA fit this typology, which means that cars with one or two seats alone could pretty much fulfill most of these short trips”, Greenblatt points out. “This would double savings on emissions, since smaller vehicles also mean smaller energy consumption and smaller greenhouse gas emissions”.

Google has announced its plans to launch a fully autonomous vehicle by 2017.


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