By 2030 driverless taxis will be cheaper and more climate-friendly than those driven by humans

There’s no doubt that self-driving cars are coming and that they’ll come in many different forms, but a likely consequence of their rise is a drop in car ownership.

Supporting this theory, a team of researchers has said that by 2030 autonomous taxis could be much cheaper than those that are driven by mere humans.

The scientists, from Lawrence Berkley National Lab, US, have said that if just five percent of vehicle sales in 15 years time were shifted to autonomous taxis, we would be able to save seven million barrels of oil each year.

Cities filled with self-driving taxis (self-driving Ubers, if you will) could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%, when compared to today’s levels.

“When we first started looking at autonomous vehicles, we found that, of all the variables we could consider, the use of autonomous vehicles as part of a shared transit system seemed to be the biggest lever that pointed to lower energy use per mile,” said Jeffery Greenblatt.

The researchers’ calculations were published in the latest Nature Climate Change journal, where they estimate the greenhouse-gas emissions and costs of autonomous taxis between 2014 and 2030.

These taxis could take the shape of one or two seater vehicles that are smaller than current cars, which could ferry people across short city distances.

There’s obviously a long way to go until any autonomous taxis are able to exist and operate on our roads – driverless cars are still only at the earliest stages of testing on public roads.

driverless-car

Despite this, the researchers said that they autonomous taxis could be cheaper to run as they could be powered by hydrogen fuel cells or electric batteries. As well as this a self-driving taxi would be cheaper, as the owners wouldn’t have to pay a pesky human to drive it, meaning it is less likely to crash.

As well as this, they say that autonomous taxis “could considerably decrease our need for parking spaces” in cities.

“Two potentially important implications of decreased parking are decreases in municipal parking revenues, and increases in VMT [vehicle miles travelled] as AVs [autonomous vehicles] travel additional distances between parking locations and passengers,” they write in supplementary information to their study.

“On the other hand, VMT may decrease due to less time spent by drivers looking for parking”.


Featured image courtesy of Google


 

This is what it is like to complete a marathon on Mars

Earlier this year the Mars Opportunity Rover clocked up a marathon distance of 26.2 miles traveled while on the planet.

NASA has now provided a unique view of the red planet and condensed the 10 year marathon down into just eight minutes.

The robot was landed on the planet in 2004 and was intended to complete a three month mission, which it has drastically outlasted.

Urban growth: Turning a tunnel into a farm

Urban farming is becoming one of the hottest start-up trends around the world.

But despite the growth in popularity, there’s only one farm that is built in a decades-old dis-used tunnel.

Growing Underground, one of London’s first urban farms, officially opened for production this month and has been transformed from an abandoned tunnel to being at the cutting edge of food production.

The journey from tunnel to farm has seen the existing structure, an old London Underground tube tunnel, transformed to meet modern hygiene and cleanliness standards.

Last year we visited the tunnel to find out what the grand plans for the farm were. The thinking behind the project can be seen in the video below.

Now that the tunnel has completely modernised it’s possible to see, thanks to the Instagram account of the farm, the changes which have happened.

Photographer Lucinda Grange took these cool pics down at the tunnel last month http://www.lucindagrange.com/

A photo posted by Growing Underground (@growing_underground) on


The farm was taken by the entrepreneurs from Transport for London, which oversees travel in the UK’s capital. Before this it had laid unused for many years.

The tunnel is part of network of constructed but never used London Underground Tube tunnels. The tunnels, which only a small part is taken up by the farm, run across London but were never developed into transport lines.

Photographer Lucinda Grange took these cool pics down at the tunnel last month http://www.lucindagrange.com/

A photo posted by Growing Underground (@growing_underground) on

During World War Two, particularly in the latter stages, the tunnel was used as an air-raid shelter to house people from German bombing of London.

After this it was largely unused although they did act as temporary accommodation for some major events held in London, during later years. Other parts of the tunnels have been used to store documents.

Photography of our tunnel by Antony Robbins from #themuseumoflondon

A photo posted by Growing Underground (@growing_underground) on

When it was agreed that they may be able to build an underground farm in the tunnel, the farmers started with a small test station, that consisted of just one light set-up and grew a few microherbs to prove that growing in the environment could be achieved.

After the concept was proved, the team then went onto bigger test beds where they worked out the best combinations for growing produce, the most efficient light systems they could use and everything technical about the process.

The farm has received high profile support, with backing from the Mayor of London and Michelin star chef Michel Roux Jnr, and has also had around £750,000 in crowdfunding.

The owners say that they can pick the crops and get them to local shops within four hours.

Looking streamlined (and kind of 80’s pop video) down on the farm 🎤 #growingunderground #undergroundfarm #led #80s

A photo posted by Growing Underground (@growing_underground) on

The tunnel has been completely altered since the start of the project and the view inside the farm doesn’t resemble the original tunnel at all.

Microherbs, salads and mini vegetables are all being grown in the artificial environment.

On launching the completed farm, which may expand further down the tunnels, the team said: “But seriously, this is a very exciting and emotional time for us, it’s been a lot of hard work, trials and tribulations which we couldn’t have gotten through without your support.

Thank you for helping us create the world’s first subterranean farm! Tunnels that 70 years ago contained beds to house Londoners now contain beds to feed Londoners.

You may have noticed we’ve been a bit quiet of late in terms of the farm? Well, that’s because we’ve been just a little bit occupied with finalising the build of Phase One of the Growing Underground farm! Today we’re thrilled to officially reveal the completed streamlined farm, lush with micro greens via a press launch. Unfortunately yes, this means you may be seeing our mugs cropping up on your TV screens and newspapers today and indeed this week – sorry about that! However Michel Roux Jr shall also be making appearances so consider your eye candy quota; quoted 😉 But seriously, this is a very exciting and emotional time for us, it’s been a lot of hard work, trials and tribulations which we couldn’t have gotten through without your support. Thank you for helping us create the World’s First Subterranean Farm! Finally tunnels that 70 yrs ago contained beds to house Londoners, now contain beds to feed Londoners. Xx #WorldsFirstSubterraneanFarm #london #sustainability #sustainable #growingunderground #ww2tunnels #urbanfarm #eatclean #foodscarcity #food #microherbs #microgreens #worldfoodshortage #futurecities #future

A photo posted by Growing Underground (@growing_underground) on