Researchers Zia Wadud (University of Leeds), Don MacKenzie (University of Washington), and Paul Leiby (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) wrote a new study: “Help or hindrance? The travel, energy and carbon impacts of highly automated vehicles,” in the journal Transportation Research Part A.
…It stands to reason that automation could increase energy use and emissions in some ways. If driving is easier and more pleasant, people will do it more. Automation will open up car travel to populations (the young, the elderly, the visually or otherwise impaired) who did not previously have access. Self-driving cars could increase the overall amount of vehicle miles traveled.