Aug 7, 2019

Self-driving cars could be more fuel-efficient than human drivers

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

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.