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How Self-driving Cars Can Worsen Traffic

By Edge Ison , Jun 05, 2017 06:35 AM EDT
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There are two opposing views regarding self-driving cars and their effect on the traffic situation practically plaguing every city or any place where there's an abundance of vehicles. Some believe that autonomous vehicles will help decrease congestion while others think self-driving cars will be terrible for traffic.

As Business Insider reported, Lew Fulton of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC-David believes that self-driving cars will not fix traffic issues simply because more people and companies would utilize zero-occupant vehicles which will be possible if the technology goes full blast.

Self-driving cars that are built for comfort can also worsen the problem. Car owners can relax and even sleep while traveling. Erasing discomfort during traffic congestion and long drives may lead to more cars on the road. Additionally, self-driving cars will likely trigger a move from the city to the suburbs as t becomes more comfortable to travel far. This means more cars will be traveling into the city during rush hour.

According to The Guardian, a couple of graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley, namely Anthony Barrs and Baiyu Chen, have developed a system in which self-driving cars can breeze through local traffic without the need for additional infrastructures. The system also allows the autonomous cars to drive 100 miles per hour without encountering traffic congestion. The Hyperlane is similar to today's high-speed toll lanes. The main difference is that the new system will employ a central computer.

Of course, the Hyperlane will only prove its mettle if self-driving cars pass all legal boundaries. Fully autonomous vehicles are not yet allowed on public roads and it may take a little more time before everyone is on the same page. For now, companies like Tesla and Volvo are developing the technology and manufacturing their own fleet of self-driving cars. Another potential hindrance to the Hyperlane is the cost. The system will likely be worth around $139 million per mile.

If something like the Hyperlane comes to fruition, then self-driving cars may indeed help in lessening traffic congestion along the old roads. For now, tech experts must look at all possible ways to improve self-driving technology while considering its eventual role in solving traffic jams.

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