Can Intelligent EVs Improve Communities?

January 31, 2019

Electric vehicles are changing the way we drive, but once they become ubiquitous, their impact will go much further than meeting our personal commuter needs. The shift from combustion engines to electric motors will impact everything from transportation infrastructure to individual routines. At the community level, the jump to EV will lead to a number of benefits that will impact people in all the right ways, including improvements in traffic, safety, air pollution, and noise pollution. Let’s look at a few examples of how an EV-dominated world can improve communities.

A Better Environment

Today’s transportation is still viewed as a leading cause of air pollution. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, passenger vehicles were responsible for “more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air” as recently as 2013. In 2016, the transportation sector became the leading contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, in part due to low fuel prices and increased freight needs, as reported by NCA4, Vol. 2.

Looking beyond the bigger threats from air pollution, such as climate change, there are very immediate and local threats to personal health that range from respiratory illnesses to heightened risk of cancers. The transition to electric vehicles, when fully realized, will make this passenger vehicle pollution contribution a thing of the past.

Protective Autonomy sensor fusion demo

Less Noise, More Peace

Noise pollution, too, is something that will be greatly reduced with the shift to EV. In today’s world, there’s a steady hum in the background that’s become so omnipresent that you don’t even notice it’s there: the sound of traffic. And traffic isn’t decreasing. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates a strong rise in freight tonnage from now until 2045. The future will see even more vehicles on the road. And while a move to electric vehicles won’t completely eliminate every road noise, it will surely help.

Durability, Reliability, Lower Costs

Nobody likes servicing their vehicle. It’s a time suck and always more expensive than expected. Many within the industry talk about the simplicity of electric vehicles. Fewer moving parts equals fewer places for something to go wrong. EVs also benefit from how an e-powertrain works. For example, a regenerative braking feature - resistance placed on wheels when not accelerating - decreases brake wear and maintains high quality braking response over a longer-period of time. Prolonged safety and spending less on repairs is something we all can get behind.

A Safer World

As electric vehicles gain more autonomy, communities will benefit from increasingly safer roads and reduced traffic. Today’s vehicles are already doing certain tasks independently, from keeping drivers safely in their lanes to tackling simple parking situations. (This latter point will get a lot more sophisticated soon thanks to our patented autonomous parking technology). As this technology grows and becomes more widespread, vehicle-to-vehicle communications combined with autonomous situational awareness will greatly improve the flow of traffic.

Human drivers can’t read the minds of other drivers to predict what they’re going to do next, but in our fully autonomous future, cars will do so by default. Seeing a sea of brake lights on the highway or getting into a fender bender because someone didn’t check their blind spot will soon be a thing of the past.

On the individual driver level, the fully autonomous future will enable passengers to focus on tasks other than vehicle operation, which in turn will free up time outside of their commutes to be more engaged with their surroundings and neighbors.

And isn’t that really what community is all about?

What is the biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of electric vehicles?
Available charging infrastructure
Price compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles
Insufficient battery range
Quirky industrial design
Lack of EV options currently on market (Jan 2019)
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