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UT Energy Symposium: Energy & Emissions Implications of Self-Driving Vehicles

This week at the Energy Symposium, Kara Kockelman, the Dewitt Greer Professor of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, will present a talk titled "Energy & Emissions Implications of Self-Driving Vehicles."

Speaker bio: The Dewitt Greer Professor of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, Kara Kockelman is a registered professional engineer and holds a PhD, MS, and BS in civil engineering, a master’s of city planning, and a minor in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Kockelman has been a professor of transportation engineering at the University of Texas at Austin for the past 20 years. She is primary and co-author of over 140 journal articles (and two books) across a variety of subjects, nearly all of which involve transportation-related data analysis. Her primary research interests include planning for shared and autonomous vehicle systems, the statistical modeling of urban systems (including models of travel behavior, trade, and location choice), energy and climate issues (vis-à-vis transport and land use decisions), the economic impacts of transport policy, and crash occurrence and consequences. Her CV and paper pre-prints can be found at

Abstract: Despite saving drivers’ time and decreasing the number of crashes, connected and self-driving or “autonomous” vehicles (CAVs) will increase vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) and thus will increase congestion, at least for some time. This is due to the potential for non-drivers to travel independently, to empty vehicles repositioning themselves, and to more low-density land development at the periphery of regions. Rising CAV will also impact every nation’s energy use and emissions. We estimate the U.S. implications of and provide associated policy recommendations for CAVs under different use and technology scenarios. Some aspects of CAVs can deliver net-energy and –emissions savings, while others increase them. Recognizing all vectors of impact, we estimate a net energy reduction of 11% to 55% versus the U.S.’s current ground-transportation conditions, depending on CAVs’ drivetrain electrification. We rank-order the variable energy impacts of different behavioral changes and technologies and recommend the adoption of both CAVs with electric drivetrains to encourage more sustainable self-driving conditions in the United States, even as VMT and congestion rise.

The UT Energy Symposium will meet every Thursday during the fall 2019 semester, and is free and open to the public. No RSVP required.

Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 5:15pm to 6:15pm

Peter O'Donnell Jr. Building (POB), POB 2.302 (Avaya Auditorium)
201 24TH ST E, Austin, Texas 78712

Event Type

Academics, Business & Economy, Policy & Law, Science & Tech

Target Audience

Students, General Public



free and open to the public; no RSVP required

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