Evaluating the Potential Environmental Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles

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Although recent studies of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) have begun to explore the potential energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission impacts from an operational perspective, little is known about how the full life cycle of the vehicle will be impacted. We report the results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) of Level 4 CAV sensing and computing subsystems integrated into internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) and battery electric vehicle (BEV) platforms. The results indicate that CAV subsystems could increase vehicle primary energy use and GHG emissions by 3−20% due to increases in power consumption, weight, drag, and data transmission. However, when potential operational effects of CAVs are included (e.g., eco-driving, platooning, and intersection connectivity), the net result is up to a 9% reduction in energy and GHG emissions in the base case. Overall, this study highlights opportunities where CAVs can improve net energy and environmental performance.

Research Areas: 
autonomous vehicle
life cycle assessment
greenhouse gas emissions
primary energy
Publication Type: 
Master's Thesis
Date Published: 
April 22, 2019
Persistent URL: 
Full Citation: 
Gawron, Jim. (2019) “Evaluating the Potential Environmental Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicles.” Master’s Thesis, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-53.
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