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Bending the Energy, Environmental, and Safety Curves Through Transportation Automation and Electrification

Lecture | February 17 | 4-5 p.m. | 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Building


Costa Samaras, Carnegie Mellon

Institute of Transportation Studies


Abstract: The combination of vehicle automation and electrification has the potential to fundamentally change the transportation sector. Vehicle crashes, traffic congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and other negative externalities associated with driving could significantly diminish. However, travel may increase with these vehicles, pollution could be concentrated in new areas, and the life cycle impacts could become more important. Methods from engineering, economics, and policy sciences can inform stakeholders at the beginning of the transition to automation on maximizing the benefits and minimizing the challenges. This talk will present recent research on the implications of municipalities transitioning fleets to electric light-duty vehicles and eventual automation. The life cycle environmental, economic, and infrastructure outcomes will be presented, as well as the feasibility of coupling municipal vehicle travel with distributed solar energy. The talk will also highlight three recent research efforts in automation: the impact of automation on VMT from underserved populations, the social cost-effectiveness of early automation features, and the implications of automation on vehicle fuel economy testing and policy.

Bio: Costa Samaras is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. His research spans energy, climate change, automation, and defense analysis, and he teaches courses on energy analysis and climate adaptation for infrastructure. He has published studies examining electric and autonomous vehicles, infrastructure adaptation, and energy transitions. Costa directs the Carnegie Mellon Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation, and is an affiliated faculty member in the Traffic21 Research Center, the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, and the Energy Science, Technology and Policy Program. He is also an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Costa received a joint Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy and from Carnegie Mellon, a M.P.A. in Public Policy from New York University, and a B.S. from Bucknell University.


jmarie@berkeley.edu