Researchers in America have concluded that 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.
Phys.org reports that the findings from work done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign indicates that self-driving cars and related technology may be even closer to revolutionizing traffic control than previously thought.
“Our experiments show that with as few as five percent of vehicles being automated and carefully controlled, we can eliminate stop-and-go waves caused by human driving behavior,” Daniel B. Work, assistant professor at the university, and a lead researcher in the study told reporters.
The report says the team conducted experiments in Tucson, Arizona, in which a single autonomous vehicle circled a track continuously with at least 20 other human-driven cars. Researchers found that by controlling the pace of the autonomous car, they were able to smooth out the traffic flow for all the cars. 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%. Moreover, the researchers found that conceptually simple and easy to implement control strategies can achieve the goal.
“Before we carried out these experiments, I did not know how straightforward it could be to positively affect the flow of traffic,” Sprinkle told the site. “I assumed we would need sophisticated control techniques, but what we showed was that controllers which are staples of undergraduate control theory will do the trick.”
The paper describing this work, “Dissipation of stop-and-go waves via control of autonomous vehicles: Field experiments,” is available here: