IT TAKES A SINGLE AUTONOMOUS CAR TO PREVENT PHANTOM TRAFFIC JAMS

WIRED | 5/16/2018 | Jack Stewart
Mireille (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://media.wired.com/photos/5afb61f295d5844ec4ac0542/191:100/pass/GettyImages-469981581.jpg

Honk if you’ve heard this one before: Autonomous and connected cars will make driving less of a drudge by handling the stop-n-go mundanity of your commute for you. Even driver assistance tools that require human oversight, like Tesla’s Autopilot, Cadillac’s Super Cruise, and Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot, make driving easier, maybe even safer.

Too bad the cars equipped with these features are expensive and therefore exclusive. It’ll take years for this tech to filter down to cheaper cars and the used market, and decades to find its way onto all of the 260 million vehicles already on US roads.

Drivers - Fact - Highway - Hands - Laps

But don’t be too envious of your wealthy fellow drivers. In fact, consider thanking them. By rolling down the highway with their hands in their laps, they may be doing you a favor. New research from the University of Michigan shows that the presence of a single automated and connected car can make driving better for everyone.

It’s all about avoiding the “phantom traffic jams” where everyone gets bunched together. “We found that they’re related to our human behavior,” says Gabor Orosz, who led the research. If one driver hits the brakes for whatever reason, the driver behind them does the same—likely harder, to make up for the time it took him to notice the brake lights and move his foot to the left. “That can lead to cascading effects where everyone is braking a little harder, eventually all traffic comes to a halt.” If a sole driver hits the brakes a little too aggressively, the person 10 cars behind him is forced to a complete stop.

Rescue - Robo-driver - Connection - Short-range - Radio

Cruising to the rescue is the connected robo-driver, which uses a 5G connection or short-range radio to chat with the cars or infrastructure up ahead to know things are slowing down well before an eyeball-reliant human driver might.

For...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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