Travel Effects and Associated Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Automated Vehicles

Automated vehicles (AVs) may significantly disrupt our transportation system, with potentially profound environmental effects. This policy brief outlines the mechanisms by which AVs may affect the environment through influencing travel demand, as well as the magnitude of these effects on vehicle miles travelled (VMT) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Personal AVs and AV taxis (or ride-hailing services) are likely to increase VMT and GHG, exacerbate traffic congestion in city centers, and potentially lead to suburban sprawl. Electrification and vehicle sharing may reduce some of these environmental effects, but targeted policies must be put in place to ensure that these solutions are effective.