DeepResource

Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

Driverless Car

Everywhere on the planet there are projects underway to make use of the new possibilities of mapping, GPS and IT (keyword: ‘location awareness’) to develop a ‘driverless car’, both for individual and freight transport. The potential is huge, because for the first time, the need to own a car would disappear and mass-car ownership can be replaced by ‘car on demand’. Additionally, the size of the car can be adapted to the number of people that need to be transported. In most cases, small, energy-efficient scooter-cars like these should suffice for most-often single-person transport:

All you need to do is use your mobile device and check availability and make a reservation. The transporter will drive to your home without a driver and all you need to do is step in and travel to your destination. Maintenance of the transporter is a responsibility of the company, not the individual.

Most commercial airplanes spend more time in the skies than on the ground and this for decades on end, which is unproblematic as long as the maintenance is done properly. With cars that is not different. The big advantage is that the transporter will be used all the time, based on the ‘law of large numbers’. In other words: the same transportation performance can be realized with far fewer transporters.

An additional advantage is that the cities will be freed of cars that spend most of their economic life time in a parked condition. Example: average number of kilometers/year driven in Holland per car is ca. 13,000. With an average speed of say 60 khm, that’s 200 hours, in a year that has 16*365 = 5840 daylight hours. Using supply/demand principle and subsequent pricing, people are encouraged to travel outside the peak hours as much as possible. Public transport can be used to take the brunt of commuting transport. When energy shortages really begin to bite, the number of kilometers/month can be rationed. If you realize that the embodied energy of a car is something like 76,000 kWh (that’s 14 kwh/day on a 15 year lifespan) before it has driven a single kilometer, the energy saving potential is considerable (ratio embodied energy/fuel cost is ca. 15-25%).

But hey, why not expand on the idea of driverless vehicles. Why go to the supermarket, if you can shop from home? Send your order over the wire and a little self-driving robot will come your way and deliver it literally on your door step. Why use a 1000+ kg car to drive to the supermarket to fetch perhaps 5 kg of groceries, if a small vehicle of say 50 kg will give the same result.

[wikipedia.org] – Google Driverless Car

Additional advantage of automatic driving: using the driverless principle and accurate computer control, large columns of personal cars and trucks can drive close to each other in a convoy and thus save a substantial amount of fuel.

And again, you don’t need fossil fuel to drive:

The car shown absorbs enough energy from the environment all by itself to transport 4 adult persons over 700 km/day (at least in a sufficient sunny environment like Australia).


Online ordered groceries brought home with a robot, no need for a 1000 kg car.

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