Firstly, driverless cars can effectively reduce carbon dioxide emission, through use of alternate source of power.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, congestion costs “US$11 billion” (2015), this leads to emission of “2.4million” pound of carbon dioxide each second and “38.2 billion” tons annually. According to Stern (2008), “almost 40% of total US carbon dioxide emissions are associated with residences and cars, so changing patterns of urban development and transportation can significantly impact emissions.”(1) The Department of transport San Francisco reveals from their research (2017) that, fuel consumption will fall by 12.4 per cent on urban roads by the effective use of driverless cars.
(2) Some experts might believe that driverless cars can be fuel efficient but, experts from the University of Leeds, Bloomberg?argues?that power consumption of autonomous vehicles will drop significantly over the long term but the fuel consumption would not drop but remain the same (2016). (3). We can also see Ford’s “$1 billion” investment in an artificial-intelligence company this year, which concluded that driverless cars could save a certain amount of fuel on low degree of consumption but cannot save fuel consumption considerably as we might expect, and increase the traffic congestion and increase our time in highways and motorways (The Wall Street Journal, 2015) (4). However, driverless cars can not only reduce fuel efficiency but they can also effectively reduce greenhouse gases.
(Lemar, 2015) There is an annual increase of “249” percent increase of emission of greenhouse gases (Kakali Sikdar, 2013) which can be reduced by “2” percent in long run and “1.8” per cent in short run. (5) “Automated vehicles open up opportunities for saving fuel, reducing greenhouse gases emission and saves the environment as well,” U.S. Transportation Secretary. (Anthony Foxx, 2016).
(6) Secondly, the primary concern with transportation is safety; hence the most obvious and largest benefit to the replacement of regular human drivers cars with self-driving cars is the decrease in traffic collisions. According to Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Commander in chief of the Dubai Police, 90% of the road accidents are related to bad driving behaviour, driving recklessly and speeding under the influence of alcohol, changing lanes without signalling and passing through red lights (Olarte, 2011). The majority of car crashes are caused by human errors, and if this proposition is implemented, the number of fatalities due to car accidents per year will dramatically plummet. In 2012, a Google driverless car had driven over 300,000 miles, with only two accidents being reported, both of which had been a human’s fault (Urmson, 2012).
Autonomous cars will have quicker reflexes than humans which make more reliable judgements and will not commit silly mistakes such as texting whilst driving. As a collateral for reducing accidents, this innovation could theoretically also save the government trillions of dollars each year.