Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No Need for Drivers Anymore?

Preparing a Nation for Autonomous Vehicles - Opportunities, Barriers and Policy Recommendations(32 page pdf, Kara M. Kockelman and Daniel J. Fagnant, Eno Center for Transportation, Oct. 22, 2013)

Also discussed here: Self-driving cars could transform driving, produce billions of dollars in benefits(Joan Lowy, Hamilton Spectator, Oct. 22, 2013) And here: Top 5 Market Trends Driverless Cars Will Rev Up in the Future(Joe Levy, Wired, Aug.14, 2013)

Today we look at autonomous or driverless cars (AV) which will be legal by 2015 laws recently enacted in California, Nevada and Florida. They could save over 20,000 lives per year lost to the 5.5 M car crashes in the USA due to driver error, in addition to over $447 B in economic savings from the 4.8 B hours of productivity lost due to traffic congestion. Although it may take a decade or more to bring the cost per car of the added technology (currently $100K) down to the point (say $1,500) where these savings can be realized, recognizing that overall ownership and operating costs would be less (i.e. 50% for insurance and 13% for fuel). If even a few cars are AVs, the smoother flow of traffic would benefit all the cars on the road. Removing the need for a driver would also bring mobility to those too young to drive, as well as to seniors (40 M over 65 now) who will be doubling in population over the next 20 years and to the disabled. Finally, if a car needs no driver and can be called up when needed, there is less need to own one but rather share it with others – an AV can make 5 times as many trips as a non AV.

driverless cars  

Key Quotes:

“self-driving cars and trucks hold the potential to transform driving by eliminating the majority of traffic deaths, significantly reducing congestion and providing tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits.”

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. with over 40,000 deaths per year

“driverless cars will become shared vehicles. Sharing cars can mean less traffic, more available parking spaces, a cleaner environment, and fewer fatal car accidents.”

“If 90 per cent of vehicles were self-driving, as many as 21,700 lives per year could be saved, and economic and other benefits could reach a staggering $447 billion”

“This could increase fuel economy and congested traffic speeds by 23 percent to 39 percent and 8 percent to 13 percent, respectively, for all vehicles in the freeway travel stream.. should lead to 5 percent reductions in fuel consumption and associated emissions.”

“if 10 percent of all vehicles on a given freeway segment are AVs, there will likely be an AV in every lane at regular spacing during congested times, which could smooth traffic for all travelers”

“General Motor and Nissan are furthest along, but Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo have also begun testing driverless systems. Google's self-driving cars have clocked more than 645,000 kilometres on California public roads.”

“The hardest part will likely be making self-driving cars cost effective to the point where this is not just a gadget that some people enjoy, but becomes mainstream,"

“California, Florida and Nevada have passed laws to regulate the licensing and operation of self-driving cars. California has directed that licensing requirements be ready by 2015.”

 “The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) predicts that driverless cars will account for up to 75 percent of vehicles on the road by the year 2040”

 “a single shared AV serves five times as many trips as a non-shared vehicle.”
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