The Environmental Impact

Driverless Cars: The Environmental Impact

Global warming is one of the hot topics regularly debated by British parliament and governments around the world. The concept is met with mixed reactions; some people believe that it is happening, some don’t. According to the Consensus project, 97% of climate papers produced agree that global warming is happening and is caused by humans.

Greenpeace have reported that approximately 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, and 2/3 of that figure is from road transport specifically. What is more concerning, however, is the estimation that by 2050, transport emissions could be between 30% and 50% of total global emissions. In other words, we need to change how we use transport – and quickly!

Having looked (during previous articles) at the numerous benefits we envisage driverless cars will bring to our planet, today’s article analyses the potential impact of the driverless revolution on the environment. During a time where most of us are, at some level, concerned for the future of our planet, autonomous cars could ease anxiety and help us take a step in the right direction. Let’s begin by looking at what we are up against.


What’s happening now?

The BBC have reported that air pollution causes around 40,000 early deaths in the UK each year. The biggest problem? Traffic. Diesel vehicles have been reported as the biggest offenders. Despite this figure being found within a BBC report, were you aware of the statistic before reading this? Do you think that global warming facts are under-reported?

Over 80% of people who live in some of the urban areas being monitored for air pollution, are exposed to levels of air quality that exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) limits. Another deeply concerning statistic – but is this advertised in our cities? How many of us living in those urban areas, are aware of the danger we are doing to ourselves, simply by living there? Do we have a right to know? Or would we prefer to ignore the statistics, continuing with our routine as though everything is okay?

In the US, transportation alone produces nearly 30% of all US global warming emissions. Another statistic that shocked us! How can we live, day in, day out, following the same processes knowing what we are doing to ourselves and the planet? Once more though, we would suggest that a lack of information makes too few of us realise how much damage our transport does.

As time goes by, the damage that we are doing to our planet is likely to become more obvious. We have already experienced rising temperatures, sea levels, as well as flooding and drought. What, we ask, will it take for us to change our ways and start becoming more responsible for our planet’s future? And what will happen if things continue?


A future without change

The impact that we are causing to the environment can be split into ‘local’ and ‘global’ effects. Local effects are the immediate damage that we are doing to ourselves, such as breathing bad air which, effectively, poisons us. This is what contributes to the 40,000 early deaths in the UK each year. On a wider scale the WHO state that in 2010, 600,000 premature deaths were caused by air pollution within the European countries WHO covers. This is the immediate damage that we are currently doing to fellow humans.

The ‘global’ effects, concern the long-term damage we are doing to our planet. This will mean changes in the atmosphere, the oceans and seas, and changes to the weather (plants blooming too early are a clear indicator). In short, we are destroying the planet and this does not bode well for future generations.


How can you help?

There are numerous ways that we can help to save the planet, but one that we are particularly concerned with, is transport. Now is the time to take a stand against air pollution caused by transport. We need people to join us in our driverless revolution, to take back everything that is good and natural about our planet!

Reports suggest that automated vehicles could reduce energy consumption by 90%. Driverless cars could be programmed to take the most fuel-efficient routes around the country, helping to save fuel. Solar-generated driverless cars eliminate the need for fuel, helping us to save on fossil fuels and ensuring that no toxic gases are released into the atmosphere. Cars will accelerate and brake more smoothly and efficiently helping us to conserve energy and parts for cars.

We would love to see ride-sharing made a key part of the driverless revolution. Maybe there could be rewards offered for people who share with others – or technology will identify the location of other passengers that need to be picked up, and incorporate this into routes. There are many technical details that need to be discussed, but sharing a car would benefit everyone; with less traffic on the road, journeys would be much quicker.   

Although driverless cars may still be some way off, technology is being produced which takes environmental factors into account. The Conigital Group have developed advanced wireless plug and play sensors that monitor the environment for pollutants such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Creating smart city solutions will enhance the future of driverless technology, as other innovative developments can utilise the sensors Conigital have developed. It is exciting to learn that the technology already exists, and is being developed to continue the driverless revolution!

On the 27th June, Conigital and other major players in the automated vehicle industry will meet at the MCAV event, at Birmingham’s iCentrum, to discuss the Connected Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) industry. The MCAV event is a chance for YOU to become a member, and, if you are interested, provide sponsorship. Joining our collective community will enable you to contribute towards this exciting industry which will help us all to play our part in saving the planet. Are you free on the 27th June? If so, please contact us and join what we believe is one of the most exciting projects in the world!

By Neil Phipps











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