In a stranger-than-fiction near future, be prepared for cars to drive you, rather than the other way around. A new study shows that self-driving taxis will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering amount, offering not only good news in terms of climate change, but being cheaper as well, in the long run.
By 2030, we should already be used to seeing electronic, self-driving cars on the road. But what about taxis? What if instead of paying a man in an old gasoline fueled car to drive us somewhere, we would just hop into one of Google’s small, two-seater self-driving car and let it take us where we want?
The study, which has been published in Nature Climate Change, holds that a self-driving taxi could emit close to 94 percent less greenhouse gases per mile than the old, conventional, soon-to-be-outdated ones.
The bigger chunk of these savings would come from the fact that the vehicle would be the perfect size for a taxi. That is – small, two-seat cars, so as to satisfy clients. As most of them only want to take the cab alone – says Jeffery Greenblatt, one of the authors of the study. It’s a no brainer that smaller cars mean smaller energy consumption, and therefore fewer greenhouse gases.
Yet, studies of the automobile market show that consumers are not yet keen enough on buying these self-driven wonders too soon, let alone leaving them out on the streets alone. In California, where Google intends to roll out a test consisting of 100 prototypes, the law states that a car should have at least one human aboard.
Now you see, this is the real problem. Uber spokesmen, as well as people from Google, and Toyota are saying that there is yet to be a legal basis for self-driven cars. Uncertainty seems to be the key word here, as state rules are at best ambiguous.
Still it is the intention of Google and Uber to work around these problems, and establish long-term programs for sustainability, bringing the future closer, and inspiring people to share a cab with others. Other studies show that by sharing taxis, the cars would spend up to 32 percent less time on the road. Just imagine what wonders that could do for lowering emissions.
Yet, as Greenblatt concludes in the study, predicting what people’s reactions would be to self-driving cars released on a global scale is a “wild card” on the worldwide car game.
Image source: popsci.com
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