MIT, Harvard study questions emissions prospects for electric robotaxes

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The research came with broad hopes that electric, autonomous shared taxis could one day help governments meet their pollution reduction goals. Specifically, it comes at a time when California lawmakers can enact such hopes into law.

Senate Bill 500 will mandate an all-electric future by ensuring that all new light-duty robotaxes deployed in the state will emit zero emissions by model year 2031. bill this month passed the state Senate and Houseand awaiting an autograph from Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill received broad support from clean energy groups.

An analysis from the national nonprofit Association of Concerned Scientists found that ride-hailing services cause 69 percent more pollution than the rides they replace, largely due to “dead road” miles. accumulates when vehicles travel without passengers. Exciting driving filled vehicles are becoming an environmental game changer – reducing emissions by half compared to private vehicle journeys and by 70 percent in collective driving situations.

Elizabeth Irvin, “Automated vehicles can be part of a clean, equitable transport system as long as they are powered by zero-emission electricity, lead to widespread aggregation of trips, and are deployed in coordination with frequent, reliable and accessible public transport.” senior transportation analyst, Association of Concerned Scientists, wrote in support of the bill.

But that’s essentially a long list of stars suggesting that the research paper “Estimating the Energy Impact of Electric, Autonomous Taxis: Evidence from a Selected Market” won’t come to fruition without significant public policy incentives.

Nunes says that even without electric powertrains or autonomous driving technology, the US can now reduce emissions by combining drives. But American commuters have had a longstanding reluctance, and research highlights the problematic nature of expecting this to change with new technology.

A report from the University of California, Davis Institute for Transportation Studies published this year “Collected ride-hailing may not be even more attractive in an automated future.”

Research published in August by the Federal Transit Administration reviewed Phoenix area paratransit riders. Those drivers using the Waymo service said driving with strangers was the “least desirable option,” and autonomous solo travel resulted in more general trips.

Likewise, Nunes’ research suggests there will be a net increase in energy consumption and emissions with electric robotaxis, as drivers will be less inclined to pool with others.

“Always, what the driving pool can do is increase your travel time,” Nunes says. Said.

“And even more than that, it increases travel time variability. It’s not clear when you’re going somewhere because you don’t know where other people are going. And the second part, because of personal safety and privacy, people don’t want to share their journey.”

Also, Nunes and colleagues suggest that cheap robotaxes may not increase public transport, but instead reduce the passenger base.

This causes public transport to take a double hit, making it environmentally less efficient on a passenger-per-mile basis, creating car journeys that would otherwise not exist.

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