Carbon Costs of Self Driving Cars

Posted on 4th of February 2023 | 159 words This is Fine, (c) K.C. Green

MIT study finds huge carbon cost to self-driving cars

The study found that with a mass global takeup of autonomous vehicles, the powerful onboard computers needed to run them could generate as many greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centres in operation today.

These data centres currently produce around 0.14 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the entire output of Argentina or around 0.3 per cent of global emissions, according to the researchers. […]

The high emissions are the result of the huge computing workload placed on each self-driving vehicle. The researchers’ modelling assumes that the vehicles use a similar algorithm to what is popular today – a multi-task learning deep neural network, so called because it can perform many tasks at once.

These neural networks have to process an onslaught of data, simultaneously analysing the inputs provided by several onboard cameras with high frame rates to allow the car to drive on its own.