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Why the driverless car will be harder on fuel: study

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A Google self-driving car on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California (AP)

A Google self-driving car on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California (AP)

A Google self-driving car on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California (AP)

A new study claims driverless cars will be harder on fuel than those driven by ordinary humans.

The researchers at the University of Michigan say autonomous motors could reverse the trend towards cutting fuel consumption in individual models.

But closer inspection of their argument reveals real weaknesses in the argument.

They say a self-driving car would make more trips to carry out the tasks that 'human' drivers do as part of their family and work duties.

It paints the following scenario.

After dropping one parent to work, the driverless car might go back home to pick up the other. And then it might take the children to school.

And then return home.

And then carry out the exercise - the other way around - in the evening.

But that doesn't take into account obvious factors such as car sharing, far more efficient use of transport, private and public.

The individual car might consume more fuel but the entire argument from the researchers suggests they believe there would be fewer cars. Therefore the overall national consumption would fall.

I think they have missed the point entirely.

Self-driving cars could be easier on the gas because they would be more measured in their acceleration and braking.

Their technology would also help avoid traffic jams and red lights and identify parking spots - all factors in cutting fuel consumption.

Strange, strange study.

*Meanwhile, back to cars that demand to be driven by humans.

Two new McLaren entry-level Sport Series models will be shown unveiled at next month's New York motor show.

The mid-engined (3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, 500bhp+) will cost from the equivalent of €220,000 or so.

And the new Honda Civic Type R will take part in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this year.

Indo Motoring