The Intersection Between Self-Driving Cars and Electric Cars

New research suggests that the tradeoffs for electric autonomous vehicles aren’t as painful as once thought—and indicates that AVs, whenever and wherever they show up, could contribute to the green-ing of the global car market.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Energy last month, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University project the potential behavior of self-driving cars in cities and suburbs. They find that certain aspects of autonomy do drain car batteries, but smart software and hardware tweaks should make fleets of battery-powered self-driving cars very possible.

“A bunch of commentators used to suggest the first AVs might have to be gas hybrids,” says Shashank Sripad, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon who worked on the paper. “But we believe that, if we want to do electric vehicles, autonomy will be compatible with it.”