“Energy consumption to rise with increased number of self-propelled vehicles’’

British and American research has claimed that the emergence of self-driving cars could increase the total energy consumption of road traffic. This is because many people who now use public transport could opt for autonomous vehicles in the future, with all of the accompanying consequences in energy consumption.

Currently, many consumers choose to take the train or the bus, because it enables them to work or relax while travelling. A driver, of course, needs to pay constant attention in a car.  In fully self-driving vehicles this is no longer necessary, which means that travel time can become work time. This makes the new form of mobility more attractive, but it also brings disadvantages in energy consumption at a time when energy reduction is seen as one of the major advantages of this new transport.

Driving Style

Several people could make use of one car; for example, employing it as a type of taxi. The vehicle driving style is likely to be more energy efficient, as self-drive vehicles can drive closer together; traffic flow improves. Additionally, manufacturers are likely to put less emphasis on a vehicle’s performance.

However, there are negative consequences to the use of these cars, say scientists from the University of Leeds in the UK, and from Washington University and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in America. Not just because passengers will move away from public transport, but also because people might opt to take devices in the car for entertainment or work purposes.

More travel

They think, therefore, that the policy makers should be looking at developing policies which focus on energy consumption, and introducing the idea that completely self-driving vehicles should be seen as supplementary.

Author: Vicky Beresford

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