A new study conducted by the UK’s Department for Transport shows that a full uptake of autonomous cars in Britain could cut road traffic by 40%.
The research concludes that connected and autonomous vehicles are able to follow each other more closely than human driven vehicles, so can, therefore, make more efficient use of space on the road.
Modelling urban and non-urban roads, the DfT computer programme was also able to gauge the effects autonomous or connected cars would have on journey times. It found that a road network of autonomous and connected cars would enjoy a 30.7% reduction in urban journey times during peak hours, while journeys on motorways and A-roads during peak hours would be 4.1% shorter.
The DfT research also simulated what traffic would be like if the UK road network had a mix of autonomous and human-driven vehicles. It found that traffic would reduce even if as little as 25% of cars were autonomous or connected.
Transport Minister Johns Hayes said, “This exciting and extensive study shows that driverless cars could vastly improve the flow of traffic in our towns and cities, offering huge benefits to motorists including reduced delays and more reliable journey times.
Driverless cars are just one example of cutting edge technology which could transform the way in which we travel in the future, particularly in providing new opportunities for those with reduced mobility. This study reinforces our belief that these technologies offer major benefits and this government will support their research.”
Along with the study, the DfT published a response to a consultation on insurance for driverless cars. The consultation aims to establish a model where insurers can cover the drivers of an autonomous car as well as the driverless vehicle itself.