Episode 116: Will automated vehicles help save energy?

Automated vehicles can be safer and make life more efficient than conventional vehicles, but all of that affects energy use. Energy expert Jeremy Michalek, professor at Carnegie Mellon University and Director of the Vehicle Electrification Group, tells us how it works.



Learn more

Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers” from the RAND Corporation.

The GM Collaborative Research Lab at Carnegie Mellon University

Self-driving Cars Save Lives and Energy” from IEEE

Self-driving Cars Could Cut Greenhouse Gas Pollution” from Scientific American

Self-driving Cars: The Next Revolution” from KPMG


HOST: Will automated vehicles help save energy? On this week’s Energy Bite, Jeremy Michalek, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

MICHALEK: Some of today’s vehicles already offer early levels of automation, such as adaptive cruise control or lane-centering. When vehicles are automated, they may cause fewer accidents and less congestion, while improving driving efficiency, so energy use could be significantly reduced.

HOST: What about fully autonomous self-driving vehicles?

MICHALEK: With fully autonomous vehicles it’s anybody’s guess. For example, safe 1-seater driverless taxis could revolutionize the commute, enable cities to pack more vehicles per lane, and eliminate the need for a parking lot in front of every business.

But they could also encourage people to live farther from work, spend a large portion of their day in transit, and they could increase travel demand from groups like children or those with disabilities.

Given these massive potential changes, it’s too early to know whether autonomous vehicles will use more or less energy.

HOST: Would you purchase a vehicle with automated features to save energy? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.


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