The electric future of autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles come at a cost: increased energy use. Some suggest that these increased power needs are significant enough to drastically reduce vehicle range, eliminating the possibility of electric autonomous vehicles. Instead, these analysts claim autonomous vehicles must be gas-electric hybrids. In a paper recently published in Nature Energy, Aniruddh Mohan, Shashank Sripad, Parth Vaishnav, and Venkat Viswanathan of Carnegie Mellon University determined that electric power can supply enough energy for an autonomous vehicle without a significant decrease in range.

Two revolutions are happening side-by-side in the automotive industry: the transition to electric power and the rise of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars may use more energy than people-driven cars to power sensors and computers for safe navigation. On the other hand, they drive more smoothly than humans do, which would reduce energy use.