Berkeley Lab study predicts autonomous taxis by 2030

Jeffery Greenblatt and Samveg Saxena from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported the financial and environmental benefits of autonomous taxis in the July 6, 2015 edition of the journal Nature Climate Change. The researchers found that autonomous taxis presented several benefits that rivaled human driven taxis. The additional cost of an autonomous vehicle can be justified by the savings that autonomous cars can deliver.

Self-driving taxis can produce as much as an 82 percent reduction in carbon emission over hybrids driven by humans. The reduction in emissions is 90 percent versus gasoline powered automobiles driven by humans. The National Household Travel Survey data from the Federal Highway Administration shows that an average taxi is driven about 70,000 miles per year. The mileage and the savings in fuel justify the added cost of a self-driving fleet of taxis.

One of the benefits of autonomous taxis is fitting the right sized car to each passenger. The majority of taxis carry a single occupant. An automated scheduling system could match smaller cars to single passengers and increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Ride-sharing could reduce fuel consumption by an additional 2.5 percent.

The near future may see the end of the cab business as it is known today. A single individual could potentially control a huge fleet of taxis in a large city. The majority of the remaining work for a taxi company would be vehicle maintenance. The uproar in some countries over Uber may be a herald of things to come in the near future. The U. S. Department of Labor reported that 233,000 people were employed as taxi drivers in the United States in 2012.

This article is reposted with the author’s permission from

Featured photo courtesy of Uris from Wikipedia.


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