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Traffic jams obviously arise because there are many cars on the road, but they would be less severe if we humans did not drive so badly. Someone changes lanes, the car behind brakes, but it brakes a little bit too much, then several other cars have to brake and suddenly we have a queue.
Japanese scientists showed us how this worked ten years ago, by placing 22 cars in a 750-foot wide circle and telling the drivers to drive 18 miles per hour.
It didn't take many seconds for someone to drive a little too slowly, and the car behind had to slow down. Before long, a small queue was formed. Not long after that a new queue was formed, this one so serious that several cars have to stop.
You have to laugh at how badly we drive.
Ten years later, the experiment was repeated, now with a self-driving car among the 22 cars.
First, the car was driven by a human and queues were formed quickly, just as in previous experiments. Then the autopilot was turned on and the man stopped driving.
In a short time, the self-driving car managed to almost completely eliminate the queues and traffic in the circle flowed nicely.
Then they switched off the autopilot and the human takes over again ... yes, you can probably guess: The queues return almost immediately.
Researchers have shown that as little as seven percent of self-driving cars on the roads can double the average speed of congested roads.
Also check out our article about the competition that started the self-driving revolution.
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