We all love our smart car technologies for the convenience and comfort they offer. And let's not forget the added security they provide! However, we rarely think of them as money savers.
A total of $6.2 billion per year
Now, the first study to assess the energy impact of smart technology in cars has revealed these modern-day ubiquitous advances are also producing significant financial benefits. The research, conducted by the Stevens Institute of Technology, has determined that their potential fuel-cost savings alone are $6.2 billion per year.
“That’s not insignificant,” said Yeganeh Hayeri, an assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology. “That translates to between $60 and $266 in the pocket of car owners every year, not to mention additional savings created for each driver due to more smoothly-flowing traffic, fewer accidents and aerodynamic efficiency of all other vehicles on the road.”
The study is also the first to take into account the energy impact on lower levels of automation and individual technologies already introduced in vehicles as well as those to come in the next few years. Hayeri and her team conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on the energy and safety impacts of automated features extracting data on how these technologies would affect fuel consumption nationwide.
The researchers then used the outcomes to analyze the benefits and costs associated with each automation technology separated into three groups. The categories were as follows: warning systems, control systems, and information systems.
Impressively, Hayeri's team deduced that drivers of low-level automated vehicles, equipped with all the study's evaluated technologies, could reduce fuel consumption per vehicle by 27 to 119 gallons a year. These savings would amount to 6 to 23 percent of the US' average fuel consumption.
Economic, health and ecological benefits
The study illustrates how smart technologies help monitor and navigate efficiently the many challenges associated with driving such as traffic congestion, construction, and even getting lost. In doing, so these innovations enable drivers to make wise choices that down the line lead to economic benefits, as well as health-related and ecological ones.
“Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic,” said Hayeri. “What we did is put a number of fuel-saving costs that come with technologies that assist us with making smarter choices on the road. We hope to use this information for improving future transportation, and consequentially improve the environment, save lives and keep the air we breathe cleaner.”
Hayeri's work was recently reported in Transportation Research Record.