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The Environmental Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles Depends on Adoption Patterns

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
June 10, 2016

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have the potential to transform our transportation system. The forces that will influence the environmental impacts of large-scale AV adoption are identified to help determine necessary future research directions. It is too early to determine which of these forces will dominate the system and dictate whether AV adoption will result in net reductions or increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The environmental research community must develop a better understanding of the disruptive forces of AVs to help develop a strategy to reduce transportation emissions. Particular emphasis is needed regarding how AVs will be adopted and used, as these patterns may ultimately dictate the environmental impacts of AVs. Without better integration of engineering, social science, and planning disciplines to model future adoption scenarios, important opportunities to steer markets toward sustainable outcomes will be lost.

Research Areas
Mobility Systems
Autonomous Vehicle Disruption
Publication Type
Journal Article
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation
Miller, Shelie A. and Brent R. Heard. (2016) "The Environmental Impact of Autonomous Vehicles Depends on Adoption Patterns." Environmental Science and Technology 50(12): 6119-6121.