Digital Themes

Autonomous Electric Vehicles

What are Autonomous Electric Vehicles?

Autonomous electric vehicles (A-VE) are self-driving vehicles powered by electricity rather than gasoline. These vehicles use sensors and computer vision to navigate. A-EVs are capable of driving where traditional cars and human drivers do.

Tesla, an electric car company founded by Elon Musk, is developing autonomous vehicles which can steer toward highway entrance and exists. While innovative, Tesla self-driving cars are not fully autonomous and require human oversight during operation. Traditional car makers are also working on electric self-driving vehicles and plan to offer advanced driver assist features by 2025.

The Robotics Institute at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science is home to researchers who study and develop autonomous and semi-autonomous technology. Since 1984, the Carnegie Mellon Navigation Lab (Navlab) has been building computer-controlled vehicles and assisted driving technologies. Navlab 11, a 2000 Jeep Wrangler, is the latest vehicle created by the Navlab team. It uses a variety of sensors to detect objects in close view and at long range.

What are the benefits of Autonomous Electric Vehicles?

  • Decreased Greenhouse Effect – A-EVs use AI-powered, next-generation battery technology. These battery powered, energy efficient vehicles offer cleaner and quicker transportation with an added possibility of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Safety – Human error has been cited as the cause of 94% of serious collisions. Autonomous vehicles can theoretically remove human error during driving, which has the potential to protect other motorist, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

  • Society and Economics – The cost of human error can be high. A 2010 NHTSA study found that vehicle crashes have resulted in billion dollar losses that range from lost work productivity to quality of life, and worse, loss of life. Limiting or eliminating error could reduce overall costs. 

  • Lessen Vehicle Emissions – Workers spend many hours per week commuting on heavily congested roads. Autonomous electric vehicles have the potential to lessen vehicle emissions and fuel costs typically associated with commuting.

  • Improved Mobility – Autonomous electric vehicles have the potential to improve mobility for the millions of disabled Americans over the age of 65. A-VEs could help give disabled drivers access to adaptive transportation.


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