January 31, 2013

Will driverless cars save fuel?

No, I don't think so.  It might reduce the numbers of cars somewhat. I suspect driverless cars will make car-sharing much more attractive - having one's car close at hand is a big reason for car ownership, and driverless cars could be mighty convenient even if dispatched from a distance.

On the other hand, I only take the train because it's safe, and it gives me a chauffeur. I think driverless cars will help kill mass transit.

Finally, Vehicle Miles Traveled will explode:

First, driving becomes much, much easier, even attractive.

Second, who would ever pay for parking?? You'd hop out of the car and tell it to circle the block until you're ready. Any city with sufficient congestion to require paid parking will instantly have much more congestion from all those cars waiting for their owners - an enormous positive feedback loop! Those additional cars will drive very efficiently, so they may not slow traffic down, but they'll be there.

I think EVs (partial and full) are the only way to reduce vehicle oil consumption.