A new study done by the University of Michigan researchers has come to a rather unexpected conclusion: autonomous cars might end up consuming more energy than traditional cars that have a driver.
According to the research, the driverless cars could end up reversing the years-long trend of declining fuel consumption in the US. Numerous automakers and technology companies, including Google and – reportedly – Apple – are developing the next generation of automobiles, which include self-driving capabilities (either partial or fully autonomous). The study has found they could use more energy than their conventional peers because the self-driving segment, with the cars using futuristic sensors and GPS positioning, would simply make more trips. According to the US National Household Travel Survey, in a typical household the adults commute, run errands and shuttle the kids separate from each other – but the UM researchers say a autonomous car would need to make more trips to accomplish the same tasks: drop one adult to work, return home, take the kids to school, return again to drop the second parent and then at the end of the day restart the same cycle.
Additionally, a large category of people that avoid driving today might find an autonomous car useful – thus adding to the number of trips. But the increased sharing prospects brought by self-driving cars could also lower by 43 percent the total vehicle ownership tally in America – lowering the count from 2.1 vehicles to 1.2 autos on average per household.
Via Automotive News Europe