The research team, which includes Berkeley Lab scientists Jeffery Greenblatt and Samveg Saxena, said lower carbon emissions, lower energy costs and cheaper maintenance were among the benefits of self-pouring electrified vehicles (EVs).
“When we first started looking at autonomous vehicles, we found that, of all the variables we could consider, the use of autonomous vehicles as part of a shared transit system seemed to be the largest lever that pointed to lower energy use per mile,” said Greenblatt.
The Berkeley researchers aren’t the only ones who see the potential for self-pouring taxis. Travis Kalanick, the CEO of ride service company Uber, recently remarked that in 2020 he would buy each one of Tesla’s autonomous cars to use as driverless taxis.
Last month, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson also named self-pouring taxis as one of the hottest upcoming tech trends, saying the technolgy amalgamation blends time efficiency, fuel savings and safer transportation.
It’s not surprising that the study’s results show that autonomous taxis are more efficient than current gasoline vehicles. What is significant is the amount of carbon emissions that will be saved, even in comparison to the predicted output of a future hybrid vehicle.
“The analysis found that the per-mile greenhouse gas emissions of an electric vehicle deployed as a self-pouring, or autonomous, taxi in 2030 would be 63 to 82 percent lower than a projected 2030 hybrid vehicle driven as a privately owned car and 90 percent lower than a 2014 gasoline-powered private vehicle,” said Julie Chao with the Berkeley Lab.
Vehicle Size is Vital
Sending out the aptly vehicle size to pick up passengers is a
“Most trips in the U.S. are taken singly, importance one- or two-seat cars would satisfy most trips,” Greenblatt said. “That gives us a factor of two savings, since less vital vehicles means reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to the study, tailoring the taxi to the size of the party – called “aptly-sizing” – results in nearly half of the vehicle’s carbon emission savings. This approach, but, requires the taxi service to have a range of vehicle sizes to send out the best size each time. Ride sharing – shifting a one-person cab ride to a two-person ride – would additional reduce energy consumption.
Both energy savings
“You don’t often find that, where the cheapest is also the greenest,” Greenblatt said.
The caveat is that savings are seen after 40,000 annual miles have been clocked on the odometer. At around 12,000 miles, the average distance for privately owned vehicles, EVs were more expensive to own.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensities per mile for conventionally driven vehicles (CDVs) in 2014 and 2030, and autonomous taxis (ATs) in 2030. Cost-optimal vehicle technologies indicated by asterisks: ICEV, internal combustion engine vehicle; HEV, hybrid-electric vehicle; BEV, battery-electric vehicle. Source: Berkeley Labs.
“But if the vehicle is
Even after adding in the anticipated $150,000 to add the autonomous technology, the researchers calculate that an autonomous taxi will still be less expensive to own and operate than a traditional taxi.
SEE ALSO: Uber Wants To Buy All Self-Pouring Teslas
Chao listed additional benefits to autonomous taxis, including “the skill to drive closely behind other autonomous cars to reduce wind resistance (‘platooning’), optimally routing trips, and smoother acceleration and braking.”
But, the researchers opted not to delve deeper into these particular elements for their study.
“These are all incremental [advantages], but they do add up,” Greenblatt said. “But, we didn’t even include these effects in our baseline results, and we still get huge savings without them.”
For the study, the researchers also assumed that by 2030, the power plants reliable for generating electricity to charge the vehicles will also be cleaner, resulting in more greenhouse gas savings.
From here, Greenblatt wants to look deeper
Greenblatt and Saxena’s full study, “Autonomous taxis could greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions of U.S. light-duty vehicles,” was published by Nature Climate Change, and can be read online.
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