Whenever we hear the latest buzz about driverless vehicles — like the ones currently in development by Google — one of the first benefits brought up is safety. The gist is that the vast majority of car accidents are the result of human error, and taking the human out of the equation would thus make streets a lot safer.
But that’s hardly the only benefit, suggests a new study in Nature Climate Change by Jeffrey Greenblatt and Samveg Saxena of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The researchers model a future in which electric-powered driverless cabs, or “autonomous taxis,” roam the streets, in a range of sizes and specifically tasked to pick up a matching number of passengers for a given ride.
“[Autonomous taxis] are anticipated to be deployed according to each trip’s occupancy need (‘right-sizing’) because it is cost-effective for owners (capital and operating costs are lower) and passengers (who…
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