This week's Question: Autonomous vehicles have been touted as a way to combat roadway accidents and reduce energy expenditure and greenhouse gas emissions. A new study from University of Leeds, University of Washington, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, however, claims that the actual impact may be both positive and negative due to how technology will change humanity’s relationship with vehicles. The study estimated, for example, a 50% to 60% increase in car energy consumption due to travelers choosing to use driverless cars in situations where they would have previously taken alternative transport, such as trains or planes. Additionally, the study predicts that people who currently find it difficult to drive, such as the elderly or those with disabilities, will have increased access to road transport with the advent of the new systems, resulting in an estimated 2% to 10% increase in road energy use for personal travel.
What do you think? Will driverless cars increase road reliance?