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Photo: Volvo Cars

The expected benefits of self-driving cars are widely touted: They will be safer than human drivers and improve access to transportation for people with disabilities, the elderly and the poor.

One other potential benefit: They will be better for the environment (and not just because most AVs will be electric).

Driving the news: A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on behalf of Volvo showed a 5% to 7% drop in fuel consumption for cars driving with adaptive cruise control compared with human drivers.

  • NREL studied Volvos driven by employees and their families near the company's headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • They compared the fuel economy of cars using adaptive cruise control to those without the system, which automatically adjusts to the speed of the car ahead.
  • It's the first study that uses real-world driving data to show how much more efficient cars with driver-assistance features can be, according to Green Car Reports.

Quick take: With less stop-and-go driving, cars drive at a steadier pace and thus burn less fuel.

What to watch: Future developments such as platooning and vehicle-to-vehicle communications could smooth traffic flow even further, making cars potentially even more efficient.

Go deeper

Inaugural address: Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden and Vice President Harris review readiness of military troops, a long-standing tradition to signify the peaceful transfer of power.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters to disrupt certification of Biden's victory. Trump did not attend Wednesday's ceremony.

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