If you can stomach the thought of handing over control of your hotrod to a computer, you may end up doing a significant part towards ensuring the future environmental stability of this planet. According to a new report from Berkeley Lab researchers, a wholesale switch to self-driving electric vehicles could cut greenhouse emissions by as much as 90 per cent by the year 2030.
It’s a “perfect world” scenario of course, one that sees all privately owned petrol-powered vehicles surrendered in favour of ride-sharing electric vehicles, but it paints a potentially utopian future ecologically at the very least. EV power plants would play their part, but so would “right-sizing” trips — ensuring the number of passengers matches the size of the vehicle making the journey possible. That’s before factoring in optimised routes and slipstreaming convoys, reducing air resistance and speeding up journeys at the expense of less juice.
While these figures relate perfect conditions over a relatively-brief 15 years, even a smaller step in this direction could make a significant difference — if 5 per cent of all projected 2030 vehicle sales (roughly 800,000 units) were self driving taxis, that could reduce carbon emissions by 2.4 million tonnes.