SAFE Case Study Finds Electric, Shared Autonomous Vehicles (SAVs) Could Significantly Reduce Air and Noise Pollution in Cities

Cruise Origin turning a corner.

The latest case study from SAFE’s Center for Automated Transportation Technology (CATT) shows that modest deployment of electric, shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) would result in noise and air pollution reductions, especially in disadvantaged communities, where these impacts are often disproportionately concentrated. 

 The 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. AV Case study graphic

View a summary of the case study here.

 This research 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. 

 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.