SAFE Case Study: Electric Shared Autonomous Vehicles Could Significantly Reduce Noise, Air Pollution

Cruise Origin turning a corner.

Washington, D.C. (November 2, 2023)—A new case study out of SAFE’s Center for Automated Transportation Technology (CATT) shows that modest deployment of electric, shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) would result in tremendous noise and air pollution reductions, especially in disadvantaged communities, where these impacts are often disproportionately concentrated. 

CATT Director Dr. Allante Whitmore’s new case study, “Environmental and Equity Implications of Electric, Shared Autonomous Vehicles (SAVs) in Urban Transportation: A Case Study of San Francisco,” found that if just 6.6% of vehicles on the road in the California city by 2033 were electric, SAVs, San Francisco would see: 

  • a 40% decrease in fine particulate matter concentrations—known to be a cause of asthma and other respiratory problems; and 
  • a 61% decrease in noise-polluting vehicle trips. 

The case study also found that the greatest reduction in noise and air pollution would occur in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. 

“SAFE has long advocated for the development, testing, and widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles to fully realize the economic and societal potential of the technology for national security imperatives from competing with China and reducing oil dependence as well as lessening vehicle crashes caused by human error and mitigating harmful emissions,” said SAFE Founder, President, and CEO Robbie Diamond. “This case study is another proof point that shared-use AVs can provide efficient mobility options that offer equal opportunity, while improving the health and wellness of people living in cities.” 

This case study builds on SAFE’s work, through CATT, showing how widespread deployment of AVs can provide a safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable mobility option while making the transportation system more resilient. 

“This case study provides valuable research for policymakers, highlighting the potential benefits that electric SAVs can bring to people and their communities when policies supporting widescale deployment allow these vehicles to safely operate on our roads,” said Dr. Whitmore. “It is important to remember that transportation affects more than just how people get from point A to point B and electric SAVs have the ability to help improve the mental and physical health of people living in urban environments.” 

Download the case study here. 

On November 7, 2023, Dr. Whitmore will join several experts in urban mobility and autonomous vehicle technology as SAFE hosts a virtual event to discuss the findings of this case study. Find out more and register for the webinar here.  


About SAFE’s Center for Automated Transportation Technology (CATT)
SAFE has been at the forefront of the effort to accelerate the adoption and deployment of electric shared, autonomous vehicles (SAVs). SAVs hold tremendous potential to dramatically improve society by reducing crashes, improving productivity, increasing efficiency, and enhancing energy security by precipitating a shift away from oil as the dominant transportation fuel. SAFE’s Center for Automated Transportation Technology (CATT) has led the effort to study and quantify many of the benefits that these new technologies can offer and will continue to advocate for well-thought out and safe policy solutions to advance this critical technology.  

About SAFE
SAFE is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization committed to transportation and energy policy solutions that advance the economic and national security of the United States, its partners, and allies. SAFE has convened business and former military leaders since 2004 to advocate for secure, resilient, and sustainable energy solutions. Visit to learn more. 

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