Most automobile manufacturers are incrementally automating more and more driving tasks, and several players, most notably Google, are pursuing fully self-driving vehicles. Long the stuff of science fiction, fully automated vehicles are now on the roads, and could be in production within a few years. How does the value of drivers’ time change when they are no longer actually driving? Will a decrease in the time cost of driving lead to increases in travel demand? Will such increases outweigh the expected energy efficiency benefits of automation? Initial work in this area suggests that road vehicle automation could plausibly reduce transportation energy demand in the U.S. by half – or could more than double it. To plan for and manage these impacts, we need to understand how automation will affect travel demand and energy efficiency in the road vehicle sector.
- With support from Toyota, we are currently working to understand how increasing levels of vehicle automation could affect residential location choices.
- We are leading the data collection and behavioral modeling activities of the Connected & Automated Vehicles Pillar of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center‘s Clean Vehicle Consortium.