AI News, A few self-driving cars can dramatically improve traffic flow, Experiments show

A few self-driving cars can dramatically improve traffic flow, Experiments show

'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.

Just as fixed traffic sensors have been replaced by crowd-sourced GPS data in many navigation systems, the use of self-driving cars is poised to replace classical freeway traffic control concepts like variable speed limits.

Funded by the National Science Foundation's Cyber-Physical Systems program, the research was led by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers with expertise in traffic flow theory, control theory, robotics, cyber-physical systems, and transportation engineering.

For the first time, researchers demonstrated experimentally that even a small percentage of such vehicles can have a significant impact on the road, eliminating waves and reducing the total fuel consumption by up to 40 percent.

This latest research suggests that even the related technology available now -- such as adaptive cruise control -- has the power to improve traffic even before there are large numbers of autonomous vehicles on the road.

'The proper design of autonomous vehicles requires a profound understanding of the reaction of humans to them,' Seibold said, 'and traffic experiments play a crucial role in understanding this interplay of human and robotic agents.'

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The presence of just a few autonomous vehicles can eliminate the stop-and-go driving of the human drivers in traffic, along with the accident risk and fuel inefficiency it causes, according to new research.

“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,”

Just as fixed traffic sensors have been replaced by crowd-sourced GPS data in many navigation systems, the use of self-driving cars is poised to replace classical freeway traffic control concepts like variable speed limits.

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Physical Systems program, the research was led by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers with expertise in traffic flow theory, control theory, robotics, cyber-physical systems, and transportation engineering.

For the first time, researchers demonstrated experimentally that even a small percentage of such vehicles can have a significant impact on the road, eliminating waves and reducing the total fuel consumption by up to 40 percent.

The researchers say the next step will be to study the impact of autonomous vehicles in denser traffic with more freedom granted to the human drivers, such as the ability to change lanes.

Tested with human drivers, self-driving car calms traffic

A live experiment recently confirmed for the first time what Temple researchers had predicted based on traffic models and computer simulations: The presence of just a few properly controlled autonomous vehicles can eliminate stop-and-go traffic jams caused by human drivers—along with the accident risks, fuel inefficiencies and increased pollution that such congestion causes.

“Our simulations indicated that it would be possible to eliminate phantom traffic jams if just one in every 20-25 vehicles were self-driving,” Seibold said, referring to the phenomenon that occurs when drivers slow or stop on the highway for no discernible reason, causing backups.

“Traffic experiments like the one we conducted play a crucial role in understanding this interplay of human and robotic agents.” The researchers next plan to study the impact of self-driving cars in denser traffic, with more freedoms, such as being able to change lanes, granted to the human drivers.

Watch an Autonomous Car Prevent a Traffic Jam From Forming

Each year, American drivers lose $160 billion, 7 billion hours, and countless cheery dispositions to traffic congestion.

Advocates for are hopeful that removing human drivers from the equation will help alleviate the problem, but some are concerned that a real impact won’t be felt until the majority of cars on the road are self-driving.

— caused by a single driver slowing down, setting off a chain reaction of slowing vehicles behind them — are the kind the researchers at U of I focused on in their study.

During the experiment, the autonomous vehicle controlled its braking in a way that reduced the number of times a human driver behind it had to hit their brakes: from nine to a maximum of 2.5 times for every kilometer (.62 miles) driven.

While this is great news for anyone who loathes wasting time and money on their daily commute, the benefits of autonomous cars extend far beyond the fuel gauge.

Study Shows Self-Driving Car Reduce Traffic Jams

According to a new study conducted by researchers from several universities, autonomous vehicles may be crucial in alleviating traffic problems plaguing many metropolitan areas by reducing the amount of traffic caused by stop-and-go traffic.

“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,” Daniel Work, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a lead researcher in the study, said in a statement.

“However, increased communication among vehicles and increased levels of autonomy in human-driven vehicles is in the near future.” The research team now plans on studying the impact of autonomous vehicles in denser traffic with more freedom given to the human drivers.

Study Shows a Few Self-Driving Cars Could Improve Traffic Flow

One of the biggest worries about self-driving cars from skeptics is that it will disrupt traffic flow.

[Image Source: John de Dios via University of Illinois] '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.

It eliminated the ebbs of normal traffic and reduced the overall fuel consumption of the human-driven vehicles by 40 percent.

It's the first time that researchers have experimentally supported the claim that autonomous cars improve the overall driving experience for human drivers.

Services like adaptive cruise control and lane change assistance improve traffic flow without adding a fully autonomous car into the mix.

'Fully autonomous vehicles in common traffic may be still far away in the future due to many technological, market and policy constraints,' Piccoli said.

'The proper design of autonomous vehicles requires a profound understanding of the reaction of humans to them,' Seibold said, 'and traffic experiments play a crucial role in understanding this interplay of human and robotic agents.'

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