Energy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles: Imagining the Possibilities

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Energy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles: Imagining the Possibilities

Posted by Rocky Mountain Institute
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Friday, September 12, 2014 - 3:15pm
 
Autonomous vehicles have captured people’s imaginations for decades. At the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, GM’s pivotal Futurama exhibit presented its vision for 1960s autonomous highway infrastructure to 30,000 visitors a day. Two decades later, during the construction of the interstate highway system (largely based on Futurama, sans vehicle autonomy), the Central Power and Light Company, an electric utility, employed the autonomous highway dream in a newspaper advertisement to demonstrate the vital role power companies could play in our driving future.
 
Now autonomous vehicles are no longer a utopian dream, capturing the attention of many, including some of my colleagues at RMI. Google recently made headlines by announcing it has started to manufacture its own autonomous car prototypes that lack steering wheels. Almost every major automaker is investing significant R&D capital in vehicle autonomy, including Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. It’d be a shorter list to note which companies aren’t working on autonomous vehicle technology.
 

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Keywords: Energy | Energy | Energy Efficiency | Environment | Great Energy Challenge | Innovation & Technology | National Geographic | RMI Outlet | Rocky Mountain Institute | autonomous vehicles | semi-autonomous cars

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