The Green Room: Can Automated Vehicles Drive An Energy-Saving Future?

Driverless technology is here! Two fully-automated, 11-passenger, all-electric shuttles manufactured by French firm NAVYA will soon begin transporting University of Michigan students, faculty, and staff on a non-stop two-mile route between the Lurie Engineering Center and the North Campus Research Complex. As it grows, this paradigm-shifting technology promises to change our world in many ways. In the May edition of 89.1 WEMU's 'The Green Room,' we examine its potential to help, or hurt, in our challenge to reign in the energy costs and emissions of our transportation sector.

This is 89-1 WEMU and I’m David Fair. It was about three years ago we devoted an episode of our monthly environmental feature, “The Green Room,” to the eco-considerations of driverless cars. Back then, the concept was mostly theoretical. That is no longer the case. Automated vehicles are not only being tested, but put to practical use on roads all over the world. And, sadly, the first non-motorist fatality has happened, as well; in March a bicyclist crossing the street, mid-block, was hit by a self-driving Uber in Arizona. Experts still seem confident that overall this new technology will be vastly safer for everyone. But what about its carbon footprint? In this new installment of “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas explores what this monumental change in our transportation system could mean for carbon emissions.


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