Self-Driving Cars Would Cut Greenhouse Gases By 90 Percent

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Self-Driving Cars Would Cut Greenhouse Gases By 90 Percent

A new study reveals that replacing personal cars with a fleet of electric taxis - much like Google's - is a cheap way of cutting down greenhouse gases.

With Google and Uber each working on driverless cars, many are now wondering if computers should take over everyone's steering wheel. Not only do these cars have a fantastic safety record compared to human drivers, it turns out they drastically cut down on vehicular greenhouse gases. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California, if Google's fleet of autonomous taxis replaced our current, personal cars, we'd see a 90 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions - not to mention a near 100 percent decrease in oil consumption - all while saving money for consumers.

Of course the biggest reason for this change is self-driving cars are electric - dropping gas guzzlers will lower gas emissions no matter how you break it down. But what really surprised scientists was that this system was green and highly cost-effective. "You don't often find that, where the cheapest is also the greenest," study co-author Jeff Greenblatt explained.

The trick is that electric taxis serve a large population without everyone needing a personal car. Instead of limiting the system to Google employees traveling to work, a fleet about 15 percent the size of private vehicles could take us all to our jobs and return to shared charging stations when the battery is low. Even if we're generous and estimate such cars cost $150,000, they operate 24 hours a day, have no gasoline costs, and don't require a salary like traditional taxi driers. That saves money in the long run, plus IHS predicts models will be much cheaper by 2030 - only $5000 more than current gas-powered models.

That's not to say there aren't hurdles to overcome with such a system. Driverless cars would have to be efficiently scheduled to meet everyone's needs, and account for variances between short and long-distance road trips. But the good news is Americans aren't against driverless cars on principle - one study suggested 44 percent would consider buying a self-driving car in the next 10 years. Even if we don't go with the taxi route, that's very promising for the environment and our wallets.

Source: Popular Science, via Green Car Reports

Permalink

*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?

I mean, I understand that part of the emissions reduction is coming from a theoretical increase in efficiency vis-a-via the taxi system, but it's not going to be a *90%* increase in efficiency, not in a large, sprawling country like the United State where there's a significant rural population. The only way you get a 90% reduction in emissions is if you also assume that, by the time this all gets set up, we're using far more renewable energy than we are, which is a hell of a risky bet.

Now, where this *could* be useful is if we went into the dense, urban areas that already have public transportation systems in place and replaced all those crappy, inefficient and graft-ridden dinosaurs that run on fixed schedules whether anyone is riding them or not with this sort of on-demand automated taxi service. *That* might actually be useful, not a pipe dream like replacing all personal cars.

By 90%? Sorry, but that doesn't sound plausible at all.
Yeah, it's an electric car, but where is the electricity coming? Certainly not from solar power farms. Most likely from thermoelectric power plants and I highly doubt that using more electricity will lower down the usage for those power plants. And that's way less power efficient than if a car used fuel right of the bat. Every time you transform one "power" into another, you lose a bit of it. So we go from heat to kinetic to electricity, only to go back from electricity to kinetic.
90% sounds way too much.

rgrekejin:
*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?

I mean, I understand that part of the emissions reduction is coming from a theoretical increase in efficiency vis-a-via the taxi system, but it's not going to be a *90%* increase in efficiency, not in a large, sprawling country like the United State where there's a significant rural population. The only way you get a 90% reduction in emissions is if you also assume that, by the time this all gets set up, we're using far more renewable energy than we are, which is a hell of a risky bet.

Now, where this *could* be useful is if we went into the dense, urban areas that already have public transportation systems in place and replaced all those crappy, inefficient and graft-ridden dinosaurs that run on fixed schedules whether anyone is riding them or not with this sort of on-demand automated taxi service. *That* might actually be useful, not a pipe dream like replacing all personal cars.

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants. Very little of it is fossil fuel, and thus very clean. We also use our trash, even import it, to generate electricity. The US mostly uses coal and gas, but even electricity generated from that is much cleaner than the energy generated from gasoline in a car engine. Thing is, a car engine is VERY inefficient as converting the energy in gasoline into moving our cars. And gasoline emits a lot of waste when burned. Using electricity is a lot cleaner in the long run, even if it comes from burning coal.

Well ford for instance already has a solar paneled powered electric car, and the technology for that is just getting started. A long term solution to the general problem (not enough power generated from the panels), is to have layered panels on top of the car that can be expanded when not driving (probably to the size of a traditional parking space). This still leaves the problem of areas with high cloud cover/rain etc, and would still only be supplimental (in other words you still need stations to fuel up etc), but it could drastically reduce the amount of outside electricity needed for the average driver.

I believe the current Ford C-max generates enough electricity to drive 3 hours on average per day currently, and does so because the solar panels it uses are more efficient then most. If the panels can continue to become more efficient, and eventually the area of panels being used is expanded (using a fold out method), you could possibly see cars that reach a 1/1 ratio of charging/driving (8 hours charging for 8 hours driving).

That also isn't taking into account all the resources that could go towards generating clean electricity instead of oil. While it's true some forms of electricity generation are bad for the environment, not all of them are, and there is a ton of resources being used right not to generate fuel (oil/gas) for our cars. If that manpower, land, equipment, time etc was used to generate electricity instead......we would have alot more to work with. That would be better for everything, not just cars.

Another thing that really, really needs to continue to be expanded on, and improved on, is solar panels on homes. We have them on our house and have 0 net energy usage except for 3 months in the summer (when our air conditioner gets used the most). That includes having a heated pool year round, and 4 people in our home with tvs, computers, 2 fridges, a washer and dryer etc.

It seems (just from my own experience) that solar panels are becoming quite effective at generating power and I can easily see people eventually having power charging stations at their homes for their cars as well. We only have half our our roof covered in panels (that was as many as our power usage warrented), so with a full roof of panels, we could probably easily power a few electric cars (we have 3 cars..none electric currently though), for a day. As long as the cars could store enough electricity to not need recharging within 12 hours (especially factoring in if they have panels on top generating electricity while you drive), we would never have to go to a station again.

That is a future I can see happening sometime soon....as long as the cost for the cars eventually come down a bit. I'm not planning on paying 150k for a car anytime soon...let alone 3 of them.

I have no real proof 'cos I'm just not interested but are humans playing a part in the warming the planet? Yes BUT the earth seems to have been doing this all by it'self.

You have the salt flats, the flats in Africa and by my guess (from the looks of it) the grand canyon all used to be underwater, where did that water go? It formed big blocks of floating ice, big enough to sink a ship!

Like I said, that is just my lil theory and it probably has zero scientific truth but it makes sense to me.

rgrekejin:
*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?

The Daily Mail? That's an academic source if I've ever heard one, and totally not a tabloid known for making up bullshit...

If you're serious: Every single person who has ever spent more than 10 minutes thinking about electric cars on an industrial scale has thought about where to get the power from. Every. Single. One.

The stated solution is usually this: If you're getting power from a single plant, then that plant can be made more efficient than a petrol/diesel engine and can have better sequestration of harmful emissions due to their size (think giant catalytic converts).

There are also very sustainable centralized power options; solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.

It's also much, much easier to de-centralize power generation with the advent of solar and wind. No power plant nearby? No problem. Install a bank of panels or mills and your car can recharge in the middle of Saskatchewan.

I mean, I understand that part of the emissions reduction is coming from a theoretical increase in efficiency vis-a-via the taxi system, but it's not going to be a *90%* increase in efficiency, not in a large, sprawling country like the United State where there's a significant rural population. The only way you get a 90% reduction in emissions is if you also assume that, by the time this all gets set up, we're using far more renewable energy than we are, which is a hell of a risky bet.

90% is probably high-balled a bit, but it's an absolutely assured bet as far as renewables go. There is only so much oil in the ground, and it is getting increasingly difficult to get to it. To the point where we're now dredging through tar sands (some of the lowest quality fuel-bearing mineral) in Canada, and that's not going to change.

Let me be clear: We won't run out. We will never run out because at some point gasoline will have a premium price to it that starts to exclude classes of people. You thought $4/gal gas was expensive? Wait until it's $10/gal. We can even synthesize it -- at great thermodynamic cost -- if we absolutely must, but there is absolutely no question of where we will be getting our energy in 50-100 years. It will not be from fossil fuels.

Thanks to a frenzy of research and a new emphasis placed on renewable sources, however, the United States has installed more renewable energy devices in the last 10 years than almost any other country (save China IIRC). I've seen the changes myself driving from Salt Lake City to San Diego. Wind farms just south of me, solar arrays further south, absolutely enormous motlen-salt towers in the deserts...

And better than all of that is that solar panels and wind turbines allow pre-existing structures (roofs, car parking lots, etc.) to generate power on-site and avoid the dramatic reduction in power (can't remember if it's voltage or amperage) caused by the miles and miles of copper laid down for traditional, centralized power generation.

Now, where this *could* be useful is if we went into the dense, urban areas that already have public transportation systems in place and replaced all those crappy, inefficient and graft-ridden dinosaurs that run on fixed schedules whether anyone is riding them or not with this sort of on-demand automated taxi service. *That* might actually be useful, not a pipe dream like replacing all personal cars.

Most people on the planet live in dense, urban areas.

omega 616:
I have no real proof 'cos I'm just not interested but are humans playing a part in the warming the planet? Yes BUT the earth seems to have been doing this all by it'self.

You have the salt flats, the flats in Africa and by my guess (from the looks of it) the grand canyon all used to be underwater, where did that water go? It formed big blocks of floating ice, big enough to sink a ship!

Like I said, that is just my lil theory and it probably has zero scientific truth but it makes sense to me.

The theory of human-caused global climate change is not that the Earth is going through something unusual; you're completely correct when you say that the ice caps didn't always exist, but "Global Warming" refers to the fact that humans have greatly accelerated the process to the point that we and other species will not be able to cope with the changes.

If we do nothing, we probably won't go extinct... But it would result in the deaths of billions.

Denamic:

rgrekejin:
*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?

I mean, I understand that part of the emissions reduction is coming from a theoretical increase in efficiency vis-a-via the taxi system, but it's not going to be a *90%* increase in efficiency, not in a large, sprawling country like the United State where there's a significant rural population. The only way you get a 90% reduction in emissions is if you also assume that, by the time this all gets set up, we're using far more renewable energy than we are, which is a hell of a risky bet.

Now, where this *could* be useful is if we went into the dense, urban areas that already have public transportation systems in place and replaced all those crappy, inefficient and graft-ridden dinosaurs that run on fixed schedules whether anyone is riding them or not with this sort of on-demand automated taxi service. *That* might actually be useful, not a pipe dream like replacing all personal cars.

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants. Very little of it is fossil fuel, and thus very clean. We also use our trash, even import it, to generate electricity. The US mostly uses coal and gas, but even electricity generated from that is much cleaner than the energy generated from gasoline in a car engine. Thing is, a car engine is VERY inefficient as converting the energy in gasoline into moving our cars. And gasoline emits a lot of waste when burned. Using electricity is a lot cleaner in the long run, even if it comes from burning coal.

Maybe because the authors are American, and discussing an idea that's being tested in American cities?

Maybe because, from a power generation perspective, America actually *is* pretty representative of most of the developed world?

Sure, you can crow about how nice and renewable things are in Sweden, but what you have going on is the result of some pretty unique circumstances that can't really be replicated elsewhere. Unless you can remove the political paranoia surrounding nuclear energy in most of the developed world (not bloody likely) that's not happening anywhere else anytime soon. In fact, nuclear has been in the process of being phased out in Sweden since 1980. As for hydroelectric power, unless you're somehow planning on creating a bunch of new rivers in China, India, and the US, I fail to see how that's really a relevant suggestion. You can only dam a river if you actually have a river to start with.

Also, you might want to read the article I linked. It talks about a study in which scientists actually examined the per-mile emissions of a car burning gasoline vs a car running electricity drawn from the local power grid. And the fact is that which is more efficient from an emissions perspective depends on a lot of different factors. Blanket statements like "electricity is a lot cleaner in the long run, even if it comes from burning coal" simply aren't true all the time.

BiH-Kira:
By 90%? Sorry, but that doesn't sound plausible at all.
Yeah, it's an electric car, but where is the electricity coming? Certainly not from solar power farms. Most likely from thermoelectric power plants and I highly doubt that using more electricity will lower down the usage for those power plants. And that's way less power efficient than if a car used fuel right of the bat. Every time you transform one "power" into another, you lose a bit of it. So we go from heat to kinetic to electricity, only to go back from electricity to kinetic.
90% sounds way too much.

You have to consider something else you are leaving out, which is the relative efficiency of a car's internal combustion engine versus the setup in a power plant. Car engines are inefficient relative to power plants (the main reason we still primarily use them is that petroleum is a relatively high density, low danger energy storage medium -- energy density on batteries is rather poor [meaning lots of heavy batteries to equal a tank of gas] and hydrogen or other gaseous fuels tend to be more volatile and require higher pressures to be worth switching to).

The real question is if the increase in efficiency of moving fuel burning from the car to a power plant exceeds the loss in using an electric motor.

SciMal:

rgrekejin:
*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?

The Daily Mail? That's an academic source if I've ever heard one, and totally not a tabloid known for making up bullshit...

...The Daily Mail, referring to a study out of the University of North Carolina. Which is, in fact, not totally a tabloid known for making up bullshit.

image

rgrekejin:

SciMal:

rgrekejin:
*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?

The Daily Mail? That's an academic source if I've ever heard one, and totally not a tabloid known for making up bullshit...

...The Daily Mail, referring to a study out of the University of North Carolina. Which is, in fact, not totally a tabloid known for making up bullshit.

Actually it's The Daily Mail referencing CityLab referencing UNC... TDM didn't speak with the researchers directly. If you want to get technical, The Daily Mail doesn't actually cite anything -- there is neither a link to the CityLab page they lifted the article from nor the UNC stu

Additionally... if you look up the study itself the authors compare the pollution associated with producing the electricity for electric cars from the well drilling to the actual burning, WITHOUT the pollution associated with the production of gasoline.

Nor does it include off-peak rates (the study is primarily focused on the monetary costs associated with EVs and how to handle the $7500 federal tax credit) when EVs are most likely to be charging.

It's clickbait based on shitty research, and isn't worth your time defending.

So it's not so much that automatic cars would cut greenhouse emissions by 90% as much as it is that replacing personal vehicles with a fleet of electric auto-taxis would cut it by 90%. I think it is a bit optimistic to think that all automatic vehicles will be electric, I expect the first ones actually hitting the broader market won't be and for that matter won't look much like googles variety. They will probably look like your regular volvo/Toyota/Opel/etc and run on gas or diesel.

Denamic:

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants. Very little of it is fossil fuel, and thus very clean. We also use our trash, even import it, to generate electricity.

Don't you worry about that child, the greens are on it and will have us off nuclear power and back on coal in no time! It's okay though because the emissions will be in Germany so it doesn't affect us. Toodles, I'm off to paint my boat with illegal environmentally damaging paint!

All I'm gonna say is.

Ugh.

Yeah sure, Self-driving EV's might cut 90% of all personal vehicle based greenhouse gas emissions, but in the process they'll cut 100% of the driving pleasure for those of us who actually like driving.

Yeah, I'm a petrolhead, and some people are fine with their car just being an A-to-B appliance, but personally I like driving, so I'd like my car to be more analogue, like a Ford Fiesta ST.
image

Denamic:

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants. Very little of it is fossil fuel, and thus very clean. We also use our trash, even import it, to generate electricity. The US mostly uses coal and gas, but even electricity generated from that is much cleaner than the energy generated from gasoline in a car engine. Thing is, a car engine is VERY inefficient as converting the energy in gasoline into moving our cars. And gasoline emits a lot of waste when burned. Using electricity is a lot cleaner in the long run, even if it comes from burning coal.

I ran some numbers. Funny little thing here. Burning garbage releases more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than burning coal does. Switching the average gasoline car to electric based on coal power would have it produce about 25% less carbon dioxide. Switching the average gasoline car to electric based on solid waste energy would have it produce 10% more. Switching the most efficient gasoline car on the market to electric based on coal actually increases the carbon emissions.

Just to list some of the numbers I'm using, so it doesn't seem like I'm just making crap up. The internet tells me that coal plants produce about 2200 lbs of CO2 per MWh of electricity. The range of most pure electrics is about 80 miles with a battery capacity of about 20 kWh. 80 miles on 20 kWh is 0.25 kWh/mile. And at 2.2 lbs/kWh, that's 0.55 lbs CO2/mile. The internet also tells me the average gas engine releases 8.9 kg CO2/gal, which is 19.6 lb/gal. To beat an electric car under these conditions, it would need a fuel efficiency of 35.6 mpg. The most efficient non-hybrid gas powered car I found was 37 mpg. A Prius gets about 50 mpg. And the fuel efficiency of cars is improving a lot faster than the efficiency of a coal power plant.

tstorm823:

Denamic:

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants. Very little of it is fossil fuel, and thus very clean. We also use our trash, even import it, to generate electricity. The US mostly uses coal and gas, but even electricity generated from that is much cleaner than the energy generated from gasoline in a car engine. Thing is, a car engine is VERY inefficient as converting the energy in gasoline into moving our cars. And gasoline emits a lot of waste when burned. Using electricity is a lot cleaner in the long run, even if it comes from burning coal.

I ran some numbers. Funny little thing here. Burning garbage releases more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than burning coal does. Switching the average gasoline car to electric based on coal power would have it produce about 25% less carbon dioxide. Switching the average gasoline car to electric based on solid waste energy would have it produce 10% more. Switching the most efficient gasoline car on the market to electric based on coal actually increases the carbon emissions.

Yeah, burning garbage is less efficient than burning coal, but you fail to account for an important fact. The garbage has to go somewhere, and landfills generate a lot more pollution than just burning it does. And if you're burning it anyway, might as well use it to generate a bit of electricity. It's not a primary means of generating power; it's garbage disposal that generates electricity.

There are serious issues with battery fueled electric cars, though I will say I don't believe that the way that electricity is produced is the main one. The real issues are the longevity of the vehicles, the carbon cost of production of such vehicles, and the lack of convenience. The last is fairly obvious - petrol cars will not be replaced unless the replacement is as or more convenient, and frankly battery cars are not. They have short ranges, and very long charging times, pretty much making them useless; whilst I appreciate that battery technology is improving, their is a scientific upper limit to what can actually be reached.

The other two issues go hand in hand - the inevitable decline in battery capacity over time (a Prius - which I appreciate is a hybrid - after a few years - IIRC it is something like 7 years - ends up being more inefficient than an equivalent petrol car, as the amount of power produced by the batteries is less than the amount of additional petrol needed to transport the additional weight inherent in a hybrid) combined with the fact that significantly more greenhouse gasses are released in producing a battery powered car than a petrol car could in fact mean that they are less carbon efficient - if a car needs to be replaced after five years and more than twice as much greenhouse emissions are released to produce such a vehicle than it would to build a run a petrol for 10 years (the average lifespan), that is hardly an improvement.

Hydrogen fuel cells are another possibility, and have the advantage of being as convenient as a petrol car in a "fill it and go" manner, however, as it stands it has a similar problem in that more greenhouse emissions (admittedly depending on the fuel source) are produce when creating the hydrogen than would be release with just powering the car with petrol, plus the raw financial cost of such vehicles, and the aforementioned issues of carbon cost of production, makes them impractical at the moment. However, the possibility exists for such vehicles to be viable in the future - something I don't believe to be the case with battery electrics.

The idea of a self driving taxi service using electric battery vehicles is intriguing, and does go some way to alleviating the problems of convenience, but even then could only be used in restricted circumstances compared to petrol cars - urban motoring would work with such a system, long distance wouldn't (I can't see there ever being a stock of cars in remote areas for you to transfer to), and such a system couldn't feasibly be transferred for use in freight transport; still it could be start. I think the self drive concept, even when combined with a petrol engine, however would see substantial reductions in admissions, as such vehicles would be able to drive more efficiently than their man powered equivalents. The two together (personal vehicles being self drive petrol, city taxis being as described in the article) could go a significant way to alleviating greenhouse emissions from automobiles, along with being acceptable to the public on account of being...well...better than current cars.

I don't preclude the possibility of electric cars becoming a big thing - a system such as the stud contact used on London Tram's might work, though might fry a few pedestrians - but the inherent issues with batteries makes me think that it is always going to be a dead end. I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

rgrekejin:
*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?

I mean, I understand that part of the emissions reduction is coming from a theoretical increase in efficiency vis-a-via the taxi system, but it's not going to be a *90%* increase in efficiency, not in a large, sprawling country like the United State where there's a significant rural population. The only way you get a 90% reduction in emissions is if you also assume that, by the time this all gets set up, we're using far more renewable energy than we are, which is a hell of a risky bet.

Now, where this *could* be useful is if we went into the dense, urban areas that already have public transportation systems in place and replaced all those crappy, inefficient and graft-ridden dinosaurs that run on fixed schedules whether anyone is riding them or not with this sort of on-demand automated taxi service. *That* might actually be useful, not a pipe dream like replacing all personal cars.

Because there is money to be made, and people want to believe we're not murdering ourselves with environmental damage. We also live in a world where you have the governor of California telling people to reduce domestic water usage. In a state with catastrophic drought. In a state which uses 80% of its water for agriculture.

:|

The danger of global warming isn't the current change to our climate, but the long term change, and the fact that the increase in average temp will continue even if humans suddenly went poof. There are multiple theories of course, but it's quite possible that life on this planet will no longer be sustainable without humans intervention at this point (after 30-50 years of continuous increases in global temp).

There is of course the possibility of the earth dealing with the problem itself and going into another ice age due to changes in thermal flows in the water etc, but basically I think the long and short of it is, we know we are making a difference in the global climate, we just don't know how big of one, or what the eventual results will be. Could all work out fine, or could be a massive disaster.

Certainly switching to a cleaner form of fuel asap is a great idea though, no matter what. If we could just nail down cold fusion, pretty much all of our problems would be solved since even climate change/control is mainly restricted by energy problems. With almost unlimited energy from cold fusion, we could pretty much do whatever we want with our climate both on local and global scales, not to mention the ability to explore and teraform space/other planets and moons.

So basically I think it all comes down to if we can get cold fusion working fast enough, before we thrash our environment beyond repair, or blow ourselves up, or release bio weapons that wipe everyone out etc.

GonvilleBromhead:
There are serious issues with battery fueled electric cars, though I will say I don't believe that the way that electricity is produced is the main one. The real issues are the longevity of the vehicles, the carbon cost of production of such vehicles, and the lack of convenience. The last is fairly obvious - petrol cars will not be replaced unless the replacement is as or more convenient, and frankly battery cars are not. They have short ranges, and very long charging times, pretty much making them useless; whilst I appreciate that battery technology is improving, their is a scientific upper limit to what can actually be reached.

The other two issues go hand in hand - the inevitable decline in battery capacity over time (a Prius - which I appreciate is a hybrid - after a few years - IIRC it is something like 7 years - ends up being more inefficient than an equivalent petrol car, as the amount of power produced by the batteries is less than the amount of additional petrol needed to transport the additional weight inherent in a hybrid) combined with the fact that significantly more greenhouse gasses are released in producing a battery powered car than a petrol car could in fact mean that they are less carbon efficient - if a car needs to be replaced after five years and more than twice as much greenhouse emissions are released to produce such a vehicle than it would to build a run a petrol for 10 years (the average lifespan), that is hardly an improvement.

Hydrogen fuel cells are another possibility, and have the advantage of being as convenient as a petrol car in a "fill it and go" manner, however, as it stands it has a similar problem in that more greenhouse emissions (admittedly depending on the fuel source) are produce when creating the hydrogen than would be release with just powering the car with petrol, plus the raw financial cost of such vehicles, and the aforementioned issues of carbon cost of production, makes them impractical at the moment. However, the possibility exists for such vehicles to be viable in the future - something I don't believe to be the case with battery electrics.

The idea of a self driving taxi service using electric battery vehicles is intriguing, and does go some way to alleviating the problems of convenience, but even then could only be used in restricted circumstances compared to petrol cars - urban motoring would work with such a system, long distance wouldn't (I can't see there ever being a stock of cars in remote areas for you to transfer to), and such a system couldn't feasibly be transferred for use in freight transport; still it could be start. I think the self drive concept, even when combined with a petrol engine, however would see substantial reductions in admissions, as such vehicles would be able to drive more efficiently than their man powered equivalents. The two together (personal vehicles being self drive petrol, city taxis being as described in the article) could go a significant way to alleviating greenhouse emissions from automobiles, along with being acceptable to the public on account of being...well...better than current cars.

I don't preclude the possibility of electric cars becoming a big thing - a system such as the stud contact used on London Tram's might work, though might fry a few pedestrians - but the inherent issues with batteries makes me think that it is always going to be a dead end. I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

I believe a fully free, fully electronic fueled bus is already being used in Europe somewhere at this point (can't remember the specific country). As far as longevity, remember that such cars are new, and improvements will be made over time much like petrol using cars improved over time. In many ways, due to less heat generated, less parts etc, an electric car should in theory eventually last longer on average then traditional cars, especially if it's power source can be primarily solar. Replacement of parts and or the engine...should be easier as well.

I'm a big fan of the public transit (free) system being upgraded drastically everywhere. Electric cars/trains/bus etc, allowing people to get wherever they need without paying anything and drastically increasing the efficiency of travel by doing almost all of it en mass. It will take decades to get there, and honestly we have not even started the trip, but we are starting to initiate some forms of local/public air transport recently (jetpacks etc), and also have some computer driven based cars as well, so the groundwork is there. I can see a future where most people will never need to get a driving licence, and hopefully, even with a larger population, rush hour traffic will be a thing of the past, and commuting will be extremely easy for everyone.

I hate commuting...in fact, I won't take a job that I have to drive more then 30 minutes from where I live anymore (too many years driving 1-2 hours each way). The sooner that no longer is needed..or common....the better.

And they're doing themselves no favors by making the cars look like children's toys.

Fanghawk:

That's not to say there aren't hurdles to overcome with such a system. Driverless cars would have to be efficiently scheduled to meet everyone's needs, and account for variances between short and long-distance road trips. But the good news is Americans aren't against driverless cars on principle - one study suggested 44 percent would consider buying a self-driving car in the next 10 years. Even if we don't go with the taxi route, that's very promising for the environment and our wallets.

In my mind, one of the biggest hurdles I've come across for self-driving cars is the moral dilemma of "Kill the Pedestrians or Kill the Passengers", that is the hypothetical scenario in which to avoid a crash and protect the car and passengers, the only available outcome is to swerve the car off the road and onto the pavement (unavoidably ploughing through pedestrians), or the opposite scenario in which a pedestrian suddenly steps out in front of the car and the only way to avoid killing the pedestrian is to swerve the car into oncoming traffic or of the road into a solid object or down an embankment etc. (both these scenarios assume that merely braking won't slow down the car enough to avoid a collision).

In both these hypothetical situations, the computer running the car is going to have to decide which humans' life is worth more and which human it will kill. Is a driverless car which makes decisions who to kill really something we want on our roads?

Who is responsible for the killing... the programmer who programmed the computer program for this situation (and what programmer would happily write a program where they are responsible for who it kills)? Is the company running the fleet of cars responsible for who it's vehicles decide to kill? Would any company undertake such a liability and responsibility? Could the car be deemed responsible on it's own and the death deemed an unaccountable accident?

Would the cars be fitted with an advanced visual recognition system so it could recognise and prioritise individuals on a case by case basis e.g. kill the passenger to avoid a child, but kill an old person to save the passenger, or would the car be programmed to protect it's customers at all costs and assign no value to pedestrians at all?

As infrequent as a scenario like this would be, it's not impossible and it will be interesting how the companies running these fleets of driverless cars (and the governments legislating them) will tackle this dilemma (apart from making the cars out of soft materials in pedestrian safe shapes and making sure they never travel fast enough to kill pedestrians or it's occupants), although unfortunately this question will probably be avoided and only tackled once enough people have been killed to generate sufficient public outrage and awareness to force an inquiry.

Nurb:
And they're doing themselves no favors by making the cars look like children's toys.

that was mostly done to aid acceptance of the vehicles rather than having the appearance of a fleet of soulless autonomous machines with hundreds of independent brains learning in tandem

rgrekejin:
Now, where this *could* be useful is if we went into the dense, urban areas that already have public transportation systems in place and replaced all those crappy, inefficient and graft-ridden dinosaurs that run on fixed schedules whether anyone is riding them or not with this sort of on-demand automated taxi service. *That* might actually be useful, not a pipe dream like replacing all personal cars.

I'm not sure if you're referring to buses or trains, but I imagine that both are probably still more efficient in the long run due to their weight-to-passenger-capacity ratio.

Fleet of taxies... you know that seems like a perfect start.
They got the endless money pot anyway, they don't need to convince the general consumer monkey to get it started, they get to control their vehicles and iron out all the kinks of their system, also things get to be road tested long long before shit goes into the wild with the unpredictability of actual users fucking their cars up.

The emission shit is all imaginary nonsense they pulled out of their ass and I see people are counter-arguing with more imaginary nonsense, but all that aside we can actually slowly get better public transport.

Jamash:

In both these hypothetical situations, the computer running the car is going to have to decide which humans' life is worth more and which human it will kill. Is a driverless car which makes decisions who to kill really something we want on our roads?

Yes? You're talking about a situation where somebody is getting killed, regardless. Sure, I wouldn't want to trust a machine to make that choice, but I also wouldn't want people to make that choice, it's a shitty choice and one that is likely better suited to a machines ability to weigh the probabilities anyways, no matter which route they take, as opposed to whatever gut reactions people tend to make.

It's a dilemma, sure, but not one where the decision particularly matters unless it manages to kill both parties. Couple that with the net effect of overall safer driving, and not really an issue worth worrying about. One to work on, but not one to hold up anything.

I'm not sure the world is ready for a bunch of Johnny Cabs, thank you. (And this, in no way, reminds us of ATMOS, right?)

wulfy42:
The danger of global warming isn't the current change to our climate, but the long term change, and the fact that the increase in average temp will continue even if humans suddenly went poof. There are multiple theories of course, but it's quite possible that life on this planet will no longer be sustainable without humans intervention at this point (after 30-50 years of continuous increases in global temp).SNIP

Nobody actually thinks this, and it doesn't even begin to make logical sense. Life on this planet includes things like thermophilic bacteria living miles below the ocean on the edges of hydrothermal vents. Nothing we do with our current technology, and no known change in climate within the realm of possibility is going to kill them. Or Tardigrades, or many other organisms that are tougher than you or, such as potato bugs.

Don't confuse the mass extinction of some plants, animals, and insects with the end of life on Earth. I would add that the risks posed by global warming exist both in the near (perhaps present) time frame as well as the future. It will only be possible to know in hindsight, but it's entirely possible that recent record weather events, over a decade of increasingly hot years and so forth represent effects of AGW we're feeling already. Don't confuse the difficulty we face in accurately measuring that contemporaneously, that it to say uncertainty in our measurements, with uncertainty in outcomes.

Dynast Brass:

wulfy42:
The danger of global warming isn't the current change to our climate, but the long term change, and the fact that the increase in average temp will continue even if humans suddenly went poof. There are multiple theories of course, but it's quite possible that life on this planet will no longer be sustainable without humans intervention at this point (after 30-50 years of continuous increases in global temp).SNIP

Nobody actually thinks this, and it doesn't even begin to make logical sense. Life on this planet includes things like thermophilic bacteria living miles below the ocean on the edges of hydrothermal vents. Nothing we do with our current technology, and no known change in climate within the realm of possibility is going to kill them. Or Tardigrades, or many other organisms that are tougher than you or, such as potato bugs.

Actually, I've read articles that suggest that if we dumped the right greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere at a suitably fast rate in a suitably long/short period of time (I think one prediction was something like twice our current rate over a period of 100 years), there was a possibility of creating a runaway greenhouse gas effect -- a warming planet putting more water vapor into the air, which warms the planet further, which puts more water vapor into the air, etc. -- that would, in effect, turn Earth into a second Venus.

I've never heard anyone reputable suggest that we're at that point already, but the idea that we could get there isn't exactly fringe. And nothing now living would survive a second Venus. Not even the thermophilic bacteria or the potato bugs.

The_Great_Galendo:

Dynast Brass:

wulfy42:
The danger of global warming isn't the current change to our climate, but the long term change, and the fact that the increase in average temp will continue even if humans suddenly went poof. There are multiple theories of course, but it's quite possible that life on this planet will no longer be sustainable without humans intervention at this point (after 30-50 years of continuous increases in global temp).SNIP

Nobody actually thinks this, and it doesn't even begin to make logical sense. Life on this planet includes things like thermophilic bacteria living miles below the ocean on the edges of hydrothermal vents. Nothing we do with our current technology, and no known change in climate within the realm of possibility is going to kill them. Or Tardigrades, or many other organisms that are tougher than you or, such as potato bugs.

Actually, I've read articles that suggest that if we dumped the right greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere at a suitably fast rate in a suitably long/short period of time (I think one prediction was something like twice our current rate over a period of 100 years), there was a possibility of creating a runaway greenhouse gas effect -- a warming planet putting more water vapor into the air, which warms the planet further, which puts more water vapor into the air, etc. -- that would, in effect, turn Earth into a second Venus.

I've never heard anyone reputable suggest that we're at that point already, but the idea that we could get there isn't exactly fringe. And nothing now living would survive a second Venus. Not even the thermophilic bacteria or the potato bugs.

What you describe is actually one man's theory, which has been proven to be impossible within an order of magnitude of what we have to burn on Earth. It has been debunked on that basis circa 2013. James Hansen has many things going for him, but unfortunately he mixes it up with a lot dramatic nonsense, of which this is one example.

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_greenhouse_effect#cite_note-16

Well that is unlikely, though its nice to see they are progressing.

rgrekejin:
*sigh*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

Why does no one ever consider that when you're powering a massive fleet of electric vehicle, all that electricity has to come from somewhere? And that somewhere often turns out to be a traditional power plant that's producing more emissions-per-mile than a traditional gasoline car?
<...>
Now, where this *could* be useful is if we went into the dense, urban areas that already have public transportation systems in place and replaced all those crappy, inefficient and graft-ridden dinosaurs that run on fixed schedules whether anyone is riding them or not with this sort of on-demand automated taxi service. *That* might actually be useful, not a pipe dream like replacing all personal cars.

First of all, dailymail... not even clicking that.

Secondly, While you still have a lot of output of greenhouse gases by using that, due to efficiency of conversion you would still win out. big plants are just more efficient than cars.

The proposal is for urban areas. though it would not be more efficient. Im yet to see a large city with public transport thats empty. the schedules are made in a way to catch the most people in. and they are adjusted constantly because of this.

Also Public transport is more efficient. Take a trolley (A bus that runs on electricity, we got them here i use them every day) with 70 people in them. now take 70 small cars with 1 people in each. who is going to consume more power to transport - the cars. because weight/person is high. who is going to take up more space in the traffic? once again, cars. Public transport when done well is unbeaten in efficiency of transportation. Of course it takes effort to do it well.

BiH-Kira:

Yeah, it's an electric car, but where is the electricity coming? Certainly not from solar power farms. Most likely from thermoelectric power plants and I highly doubt that using more electricity will lower down the usage for those power plants. And that's way less power efficient than if a car used fuel right of the bat. Every time you transform one "power" into another, you lose a bit of it. So we go from heat to kinetic to electricity, only to go back from electricity to kinetic.
90% sounds way too much.

Not all power is fossil fuel, though. for example atomic power is environmentally friendly and realistic solution. Also there are significant chance that EU is going to actually finnish its "50% of electricity not from fossil fuels" plan by 2027.

Now, you talk about conversion. but in electric cards the conversion is actually very efficient in comparison. Car engines are very inefficient. 20% efficiency is extremely well designed engine. so you loose at least 80% (more in older or worse upkeep cars). meanwhile electric conversion to kinetic is far higher (not sure about percentage atm, sorry). And even those power plants that burn gas are much more efficient than gas car engines.

MrFalconfly:

Yeah, I'm a petrolhead, and some people are fine with their car just being an A-to-B appliance, but personally I like driving, so I'd like my car to be more analogue, like a Ford Fiesta ST.

I think the world is big enough for both of us and you can enjoy your driving while i can be productive while being driven by a computer :)

Jamash:

In my mind, one of the biggest hurdles I've come across for self-driving cars is the moral dilemma of "Kill the Pedestrians or Kill the Passengers", that is the hypothetical scenario in which to avoid a crash and protect the car and passengers, the only available outcome is to swerve the car off the road and onto the pavement (unavoidably ploughing through pedestrians), or the opposite scenario in which a pedestrian suddenly steps out in front of the car and the only way to avoid killing the pedestrian is to swerve the car into oncoming traffic or of the road into a solid object or down an embankment etc. (both these scenarios assume that merely braking won't slow down the car enough to avoid a collision).

Always choose the driver. Cars have A LOT of built in safety features that means the driver is likely to survive, while the pedestrian is not. If safety of human is primary you take the less chance of death option and crash the car.

Is a driverless car which makes decisions who to kill really something we want on our roads?

Is a car driven by a human that makes decisions who to kill really something we want on our roads?
Well it happens. scarily often. In fact self-driving ones are far less likely to have an accident, statistically. Id rather take smaller chance of being killed than a higher one. and at least with self-driving cars we know the driver isnt drunk.

Who is responsible for the killing... the programmer who programmed the computer program for this situation (and what programmer would happily write a program where they are responsible for who it kills)? Is the company running the fleet of cars responsible for who it's vehicles decide to kill? Would any company undertake such a liability and responsibility? Could the car be deemed responsible on it's own and the death deemed an unaccountable accident?

If we assume the car drove appropriately and somone walked into the middle of the road then the pedestrian is. as it would be if i were to be driving the car myself. Also worth noting that accidents happen, even fatal ones, without having somone to blame.

Jamash:
Is a driverless car which makes decisions who to kill really something we want on our roads?

I really see no moral dilemma here that didn't already exist. The choice still has to be made, and what I can tell you for sure is that computers are a hell of a lot better at split second judgments than we are.

The self driving car has such clear and massive advantages on decision making in this sort of snap judgement scenario I almost can't take the question seriously. Everything from better sensors to perfect situation awareness to being able to actually process all relevant information in the available time frame. Hell, many of these types of "unavoidable" accidents are probably completely avoidable if a computer were in charge.

And it isn't like it will be some cold unfeeling calculation. What so many people don't seem to get is that software is created by people. In this particular case the idea is basically that the decision on what to do is made in advance under controlled conditions. Some person somewhere did still make the decision, just very far in advance and they set it up in such a way that they could make that decision with perfect situation awareness, far better data at their disposal and with ample time to consider the situation.

So my answer is absolutely yes. And the sooner we can transition from relatively shitty human drivers the better.

ITT:

Americans will moan about environment all the way, but NOTHING can make them leave behind cars and take a trolley. Who cares about public transportation being more efficient, safe and eco-friendly by orders of magnitude - people would rather die than be transported TOGETHER WITH ALL THOSE OTHER HUMANS OH THE HORROR.

And of course - just making trolley lines is not hip and futuristic enough. Power lines are a lot more efficient, cheap, safe and long-living than accumulators and charging stations? Uh, but where is sensationalism in that? What's the point of actually useful technology if doesn't provide geeky nerdgasms?

Denamic:

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants.

No, you import the most. The World indeed gets most of it's energy by burning shit at this point. It sucks, but it's true.

Marxie:
ITT:

Americans will moan about environment all the way, but NOTHING can make them leave behind cars and take a trolley. Who cares about public transportation being more efficient, safe and eco-friendly by orders of magnitude - people would rather die than be transported TOGETHER WITH ALL THOSE OTHER HUMANS OH THE HORROR.

Denamic:

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants.

No, you import the most. The World indeed gets most of it's energy by burning shit at this point. It sucks, but it's true.

The problem with public transportation in many American cities is how spread out our cities are, which makes public transportation very inefficient. Public transportation is a hard sell when a two way ticket costs more than the gas to drive yourself and takes more than twice as long. I simply cannot afford to take public transportation.

DrOswald:

Marxie:
ITT:

Americans will moan about environment all the way, but NOTHING can make them leave behind cars and take a trolley. Who cares about public transportation being more efficient, safe and eco-friendly by orders of magnitude - people would rather die than be transported TOGETHER WITH ALL THOSE OTHER HUMANS OH THE HORROR.

Denamic:

Why does everyone assume that the US represent the world? In Sweden, we get most of our power from water and nuclear plants.

No, you import the most. The World indeed gets most of it's energy by burning shit at this point. It sucks, but it's true.

The problem with public transportation in many American cities is how spread out our cities are, which makes public transportation very inefficient. Public transportation a hard sell when a two way ticket costs more than the gas to drive there yourself and takes more than twice as long. I simply cannot afford to take public transportation.

That is something I didn't appreciate until coming to this country, just how immense it really is. We're so used to seeing the major cities, or some small towns that we forget the distance between them would take you from the UK to Sevastopol and back with change to spare.

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