The Potential Benefits of Highly Automated Vehicles (HAVs)

Greater Road Safety

Greater Road Safety

Vehicle automation promises to reduce the number of deadly crashes on our roads.

Government data identifies driver behavior or error as a factor in 94 percent of crashes. For example, fatigued drivers are twice as likely to make mistakes, according to NHTSA. Driver-assist technologies like blind spot monitoring and lane departure warnings can help avoid crashes, and the most common crash — rear-end collisions — is projected to decline dramatically as automated emergency braking is more widely deployed.

Higher levels of autonomy have the potential to reduce risky and dangerous driver behaviors. The greatest promise may be reducing the devastation of impaired driving, which causes approximately one-third of road fatalities today.

In a fully automated vehicle, all occupants could safely pursue more productive activities, like responding to email.

Reduced Congestion

Reduced Congestion

Several causes of traffic congestion could be addressed by highly automated vehicles (HAVs)

Fewer crashes or fender benders mean fewer roadway backups.

HAVs maintain a safe and consistent distance between vehicles, helping to reduce the number of stop-and-go waves that produce road congestion for no apparent reason.

Researchers at the University of Texas predict that tightly spaced platoons of HAVs could reduce congestion-related delays by 60 percent on highways.

Environmental Gains

Environmental Gains

Automated driving systems have the potential to reduce fuel use and carbon emissions in multiple ways.

Fewer traffic jams save fuel and reduce greenhouse gases from needless idling.

Automated driving systems may reduce unnecessary braking and acceleration that waste fuel.

Vehicles with fully automated driving systems may be able to travel more closely together, reducing air drag and thereby reducing fuel use. One estimate is that a highway platoon of automated vehicles could reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent.

Automation – and car-sharing — may spur more demand for all types of electric vehicles. When the vehicle is used more hours a day through car-sharing, any up-front battery costs could be shared also, increasing the economic appeal of electric cars.

Saving Money

Saving Money

Automated driving systems could help our pocketbooks in many ways.

HAVs can help avoid the costs of crashes, including medical bills, lost work time and vehicle repair.

Smoother flowing traffic with fewer stop-and-go waves will reduce needless idling, and less idling reduces fuel costs.

Fewer crashes may reduce the costs of insurance.

HAVs are projected to spur more car-sharing due to the ease of securing a vehicle when needed. Car-sharing reduces overall vehicle ownership costs.

More Productivity

More Productivity

Wide-scale deployment of HAVs could allow drivers to recapture productive time now spent driving.

Less congestion means less commuting time.

In the future, HAVs could offer the convenience of dropping vehicle occupants at their destination, whether an airport or shopping mall, while the vehicle parks itself.

Vehicle occupants could enjoy other diversions, like reading, sleeping or playing with children, in ADS-dedicated HAVs that can only be operated by an ADS.

Using HAVs, business fleets could optimize supply chains and transportation routes for more efficient deliveries at lower costs.

Greater Independence

Greater Independence

Full automation offers more personal freedom.

People with disabilities, like the blind, are capable of self-sufficiency, and highly automated vehicles can help them live the life they want.

These vehicles can also enhance independence for seniors.

Ride-sharing of HAVs could reduce costs of personal transportation, providing more affordable mobility.

Better Land Use

Better Land Use

Widespread introduction of HAVs can produce a more seamless transportation system, plus other benefits.

Since HAVs can operate closer together, they need less road space so highway capacity could be increased — without construction. 

HAVs could lead to better land use. Automated cars used for ride sharing may reduce parking needs, especially in urban areas.