New research by the University of Michigan suggests that just one connected and automated vehicle can reduce the stop-start congestion caused by drivers braking too hard in traffic.
Wired Magazine reports that solutions such as Tesla’s Autopilot can have an effect on all traffic’s movement.
It quotes the research in which test vehicles were a mix of vehicles with the ability to broadcast their position, speed and direction, with one picked to act as the autonomous car, with an onboard computer was wired into its brakes, with the ability to apply them just as much as necessary, as early as possible.
The report explains how the team drove around as a convoy, cruising at 55 mph until one driver braked, harder each time. The humans behind that car hit the brakes hard enough to throw them against their seat belts. But the connected car in the pack got advanced notification that a car several ahead was slowing, and it started slowing more gently, not even hard enough to spill a cup of coffee. The human drivers behind that car were also able to brake more gently—and they didn’t get bunched up.
The researchers found it also saved energy by as much as 19% in the connected car, and 7% for the human-driven vehicles behind it, which has implications on emissions and electric vehicle range.