Within the next 5-10 years, it is expected that new automobiles will be able to drive themselves under limited conditions. This automation will likely change the way people use cars, which could in turn affect energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. An expert on the anticipated environmental impact of self-driving cars, Assistant Professor Don MacKenzie’s research was featured in The New York Times and more than 500 other news outlets. Read the New York Times article.
MacKenzie published a new study earlier this year together with researchers from the University of Leeds and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The researchers discovered that vehicle automation may lead to a dramatic increase in car usage, which could drastically reduce the environmental benefits of self-driving cars. With self-driving cars allowing people to work and relax while on the road, they may choose to drive more frequently, or choose their cars over other forms of transportation. The study estimates a 5-60 percent increase in energy consumption from cars.