How might automated vehicles affect energy use and emissions?

Don MacKenzie
University of Washington

Early research has suggested that automated vehicles (AVs) could have myriad direct and indirect effects on travel demand, energy consumption, and emissions from transportation, with the net impacts highly uncertain. AVs could induce a significant increase in travel demand, depending on how automation affects the value of in-vehicle time and residential location choices. They might also reduce per-mile energy consumption and emissions, if automation makes on-demand mobility services competitive with personal car ownership in terms of cost and convenience. In this talk, I will share three recent studies by the University of Washington’s Sustainable Transportation Lab. In one, we quantified how relieving the traveler of the driving task reduces the value of travel time, using a stated choice experiment. In another, we evaluated the potential for on-demand mobility fleets to reduce energy demand by matching vehicle size to travel party size, using National Household Travel Survey data. Finally, we investigated how automating personal vehicles or deploying a new on-demand mobility service might affect residential location choices, using the Puget Sound (Washington) region as a case study.

Presentation (PDF File)