Autonomous vehicles could benefit health if cars are electric and shared

Autonomous vehicles could benefit health if cars are electric and shared

News from ISGlobal

What impact will self-driving cars have on public health? The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has taken part in a study that analysed the potential risks and benefits of autonomous vehicles for public healthThe conclusions of the study, published in the Annual Review of Public Health, indicate that this new type of mobility could benefit public health if the cars are electric and the model used is based on ridesharing.

Forecasts indicate that, in 2020, 5% of car sales will involve self-driving vehicles and that this figure could rise to 40% by 2030 (fully autonomous vehicles). ‘Autonomous technology’ refers to technology that can drive a vehicle without the need for any active physical control or monitoring by a human driver. Car autonomy is classified on a six-level scale starting at zero—a vehicle with no automation in which the driver performs all operating tasks and controls the driving environment—and going up to level five— a fully autonomous, completely automated vehicle.

David Rojas, first author of the paper and a researcher at ISGlobal and Colorado State University, explains the current situation: "At the international level, we are still seeing very little research or planning by the authorities in anticipation of the advent of these new transport technologies, despite the fact that autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly modify our cities and the way we travel. And this innovative autonomous technology will also have an impact on public health."


David Rojas-Rueda, Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen, Haneen Khreis and Howard Frumkin. Autonomous Vehicles and Public Health. Annual Review of Public Health 2020.