A Few Self-driving Cars Can Dramatically Improve Traffic Flow

Institute: IPAM     April 2018

The presence of just a few autonomous vehicles can eliminate the stop-and-go driving of the human drivers in traffic. Under normal circumstances, human drivers naturally create stop-and-go traffic, even in the absence of bottlenecks, lane changes, merges or other disruptions. A small percentage of autonomous vehicles can have a significant impact on the road, eliminating waves and reducing the total fuel consumption by up to 40 percent. This finding was demonstrated in an experiment conducted by a team of researchers who started their collaboration during the IPAM program on “New Directions in Mathematical Approaches for Traffic Flow Management”. It indicates that self-driving cars and related technology may be even closer to revolutionizing traffic control than previously thought.

A Youtube video of the experiment can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ni7CX8ffsk