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Could driverless cars cut delays?

A new study carried out by the Department for Transport has revealed that driverless car technology could significantly reduce delays.

The project created virtual models of different sections of the UK road network including urban roads and a 20km motorway section with computer software.

As part of the study, different scenarios including the level of automation, the proportion of vehicles equipped with the technology and different automated driving styles were analysed.

As the number of driverless cars was increased within the model, delays and traffic flow were seen to improve.

When examining major roads with higher numbers of traditional vehicles than automated vehicles, the benefits were fairly small.

However, as the percentage of driverless cars on the roads growths – when measuring peak traffic periods with a maximum of up to 100% of driverless vehicles, journey times were cut by more than 11% and delays reduced by more than 40%.

On urban roads, the advantages were visible in peak traffic periods even with a small number of automated vehicles. These included a 12% improvement in delays and a 21% improvement in journey time reliability.

Transport Minister Johns Hayes commented: “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.”

It is envisaged that the study will lead to further trials and research to ensure the transition to driverless vehicles is safe and beneficial for all.

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