Do you think self-driving cars will take off? In an effort to answer this question, we asked ourselves what the advantages are to having a car that can drive itself. The two things that came to mind immediately were lower accident rates and more free time. A recent study suggests that self-driving cars can help the environment too.

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have published a study determining that switching to autonomous taxis could cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90% by 2030. This would be the result of a number of changes. First off, people would travel in smaller vehicles more often. Most quick errands only require a tiny car to get from point A to point B. If people shifted away from privately-owned vehicles, we could avoid getting into big vehicles unless we found it absolutely necessary. Not to mention autonomous cars take optimized routes in closely-packed traffic reducing wind resistance.

Do take note that all of these ideas assume ideal conditions. To arrange such a infrastructure takes time. Considering how new all of this technology is, it will be many years before we see such a streamlined system in place. This would also require the total cooperation of everyone. Many professional drivers would lose their jobs. Even just a modest switch can still make a big difference.

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