Impacts of autonomous vehicles on greenhouse gas emissions—positive or negative?

Moneim Massar, Imran Reza, Syed Masiur Rahman*, Sheikh Muhammad Habib Abdullah, Arshad Jamal, Fahad Saleh Al-Ismail

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The potential effects of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are uncertain, although numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the impact. This paper aims to synthesize and review all the literature regarding the topic in a systematic manner to eliminate the bias and provide an overall insight, while incorporating some statistical analysis to provide an interval estimate of these studies. This paper addressed the effect of the positive and negative impacts reported in the literature in two categories of AVs: partial automation and full automation. The positive impacts represented in AVs’ possibility to reduce GHG emission can be attributed to some factors, including eco-driving, eco traffic signal, platooning, and less hunting for parking. The increase in vehicle mile travel (VMT) due to (i) modal shift to AVs by captive passengers, including elderly and disabled people and (ii) easier travel compared to other modes will contribute to raising the GHG emissions. The result shows that eco-driving and platooning have the most significant contribution to reducing GHG emissions by 35%. On the other side, easier travel and faster travel significantly contribute to the increase of GHG emissions by 41.24%. Study findings reveal that the positive emission changes may not be realized at a lower AV penetration rate, where the maximum emission reduction might take place within 60–80% of AV penetration into the network.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5567
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: The authors would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) in conducting this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Autonomous vehicle
  • CLD
  • COVID-19
  • Emission
  • Energy consumption
  • GHG
  • VMT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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