Video: Watch an Autonomous Car Prevent a Traffic Jam

Autonomous cars will make driving better. Way better. With just a few autonomous cars on the road, safety, traffic, and efficiency will improve everything, dramatically, for everyone. Those are some of the claims behind many companies’ decisions to spend millions developing the technology, anyway- but this technology that has been so big on promise has been notably short on proof. Until now.


University of Illinois Studies Effects of Autonomous Cars

This video, produced as part of a study taking place at the University of Illinois, suggests that removing “human error” from just a small percentage of the vehicles on the road could greatly reduce those “phantom traffic jams” that seem to happen for no reason at all.

“Our experiments show that with as few as 5 percent of vehicles being automated and carefully controlled, we can eliminate stop-and-go waves caused by human driving behavior,” said Daniel B. Work, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a lead researcher in the study.

Work set up an experiment with an autonomous vehicle whose software applied brakes in a way that reduced the number of times a human driver behind it would have to hit their brakes. The resulting shift in the humans’ driving patterns- which were being controlled by the car’s AI- reduced the number of times that drivers applied their brakes from 9 times per kilometer to less than 2.5. Fuel consumption was effectively reduced by 40%, too, as cars’ gasoline did the work of moving the vehicle instead of idling an engine to run an air conditioner.

You can check out the imaginatively titled “Self-driving cars experiment demonstrates dramatic improvements in traffic flow” video, below, then let us know what you think of the benefits a self driving future in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


Autonomous Car Stops Traffic Jam From Forming

Source | Images: University of Illinois, via Futurism.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.