Self driving cars will revolutionize the automobile industry. The savings in fuel will be enormous, as will the decreasing need for maintenance and repairs. There is no way to know precisely how much gasoline will be saved, because it depends entirely on how many self driving cars there are and how closely they are allowed to travel with each other. One thing is certain, and that is that we will know much sooner than we expect. For those environmentally conscious individuals that are impatient, you can settle for a popular hybrid car to do your part until this innovation rolls out onto the streets. Once the self driving car is allowed on the road, it will replace old-fashioned cars with stunning speed. The reduction in gasoline usage will have tremendous benefits on every aspect of the environment.
How Will Self Driving Cars Save So Much Gas?
Patience in city driving
The first place self driving cars will save gas is in the city. As most people know, mileage is drastically lower in a city than it is on the highway. This is solely due to the stop-and-go patterns of traffic. Enormous energy is expended by rushing to red lights only to slam on the brakes. It would not be an exaggeration to call this the single biggest waste of gasoline there is. Human nature demands that we drive as quickly as possible. Self driving cars have no such temptation. They know precisely how far it is to the next red light and how much energy it will take to get there. They will expend exactly that energy needed and coast gently to a stop when they arrive. City mileage for self propelled cars will approximate highway mileage.
Efficient highway driving
Highway driving will be easier on the gas tank as well. Though a human motorist on the highway can most closely emulate the way that a self driving car will drive, people will not be able to match the efficiency and foresightedness of self driving cars. Instead of just barely giving the brakes a touch now and again, the cars will be able to accomplish most interstate travel without ever hitting the brakes. This means that they will rarely give up the energy they spent on acceleration with a need to decelerate. They will also be able to see further down the road, no matter what the weather conditions, and will never get tired or allow their attention to wander. This means much fewer accidents, infinitely fewer late night collisions with deer and other animals, and much less damage to be repaired, therefore less insurance rate. You think your saving money with your hybrid car insurance? Just wait till self driving cars start to roll out on the roads.
“Drafting” is perhaps the most difficult to predict. Since self driving cars will be able to communicate with each other and react to road conditions much more quickly than a human driver could ever dream of doing, they will be able to follow each other on the highway far more closely than human beings ever could. A large part of the energy used by cars in highway driving is spent to overcome air resistance. Self driving cars will be able to “draft,” or travel closely in the wake of other vehicles that have already pushed the air out of the way. This could save substantially on the energy used to move at high speeds. Self driving cars may be able to travel so closely to each other that they will be able to act as a sort of train, which means that only the front vehicle has to burn the gasoline to move the air out of the way and the cars behind can take advantage of their hard work.
Whether self-driving cars are the future of transportation is still up for debate. However, we can all rest assured knowing that these technological marvels will at least be reducing our carbon road print.
Walter Zeiss is a Journalism Student with many passions. He spends his spare time doing research about alternative energy for cars and learning about greener living in general. His goal upon graduation is to spread the word about greener living and help the masses reduce their carbon footprint.