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Smart Taxis Could Save 7 Billion Barrels of Oil Per Year

Smart Taxis Could Save 7 Billion Barrels of Oil Per Year

by P. H. MadoreJuly 17, 2015

self-driving-taxis-save-7-billion-barrels-of-oil-per-year-smart-cars-ai-taxiA recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has concluded that up to 7 billion barrels of oil per year could be saved in a future that included artificially intelligent, electricity-fueled cars.

The study makes some assumptions about the future to reach its conclusions. For one, the efficiency of hybrid and alternative energy vehicles will progress at the current pace and will be at a certain level by 2030. For this reason, they compared a driver-less, electric vehicle to both 2014 model hybrids and projected future models. On the whole, they discovered that the projected vehicle would use 90% fewer resources to get the same distance.

The study also assumes that cars will become smaller over time, thus reducing road congestion and improving time spent for each trip. For this future to be a reality, cars carrying more than two people would become a rarity, which clearly does not account for larger traveling groups. But the study is focusing on reducing from current levels of energy use and space and on the amount of oil that will be saved by enhancements in this direction.

But Who Will You Tip?

The biggest contributor to oil conservation, they conclude, will be artificial intelligence. This is not hard to comprehend since an AI driver would not be prone to road rage, distraction, or other human drawbacks. To boot, self-driving cars would be able to calculate optimum speed, precision braking, and maintenance needs. The scientists do not merely envision taxis being driven by artificial intelligence, but also buses.

There will be an improved energy grid in the future, with government regulation and industry innovation meaning the power plants of 2030 will by and large use cleaner sources. By utilizing hybrid vehicles, which cost more initially, taxi companies will save over the long-term as the cost-per-mile is lower with alternative fuel.

The cost of artificial intelligence is still quite high, with estimates being around $150,000 to adapt a current vehicle. However, Moore’s law tells us that in 15 years, the cost will have reduced by half several times. By then, it could be cheaper to operate an AI taxi than a human-driven version.

Images from Shutterstock.

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