An industry push to design vehicles that can drive themselves to make them safer and more convenient could offer the added benefit of making them more fuel efficient, researchers say. By the end of the decade, consumers could see partially automated vehicles in which the vehicle’s electromechanical system controls the steering and acceleration, essentially taking the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands and assuring better fuel management, Nady Boules, director of GM’s Electrical and Controls Integration Lab, told MIT’s Technology Review. Some vehicles already include systems that prompt drivers to control their acceleration to encourage greater fuel efficiency. But the real fuel benefits will arrive with the emergence of fully automated vehicles that will increasingly rely on a complex system of sensors, control systems, computers, and communication with external sources, Boules said. Possible innovations, which are currently being researched, include the development of vehicles that can park themselves — allowing drivers to avoid driving around the block searching for a spot — and vehicle-to-vehicle communication that would allow highway drivers to travel close together at consistent speeds to reduce fuel consumption.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360