Autonomous cars will increase traffic congestion unless the industry collaborates to develop the technology, according to a new study.
A white paper published by maps provider HERE and automotive consultancy company SBD urges manufacturers to move away from an “each-to-their-own” approach and start working towards what it calls Collaborative Autonomous Cars.
This would include more cooperation between autonomous car manufacturers to establish vehicle, road network and infrastructure data exchanges in conjunction with local, state and national transportation agencies.
According to the white paper, there are two main factors that determine how autonomous cars will impact traffic conditions: the level of automation, and the level of user adoption.
It argues that basic levels of autonomy could have a minimal but positive impact in reducing congestion, but higher levels of autonomy could affect congestion negatively if user adoption is low. It sees collaboration between manufacturers as key to easing the transition to more autonomous cars on the road.
Carrie Cox, co-author of the study and senior product marketing manager at HERE, said: “The combined power of vehicle and road sensor data, autonomous vehicles and sophisticated real-time location services will ultimately decrease traffic congestion.
“But how we get to that objective and what it takes to get there, in terms of building the necessary digital infrastructure at scale, is a call to action for all of us in the auto industry. Greater collaboration is needed to ensure drivers and road operators alike can seamlessly transition into the era of automated vehicles.”
SBD says 11 million cars will arrive in Europe, the US and China with some level of automation in 2016. By 2020, more manufacturers will offer cars with Level 4 or 5 autonomous technology, which will allow drivers to hand over control to the vehicle.