The report, commissioned by the Department for Transport, used computer modeling to understand how the addition of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVS) to traffic in both urban and major road environments, i.e. motorways, would affect road conditions.
Specifically, the study found that on a simulation of a major road, where traditional vehicles outnumbered automated cars there was not much change in traffic flow. However, once driverless cars outnumbered normal vehicles traffic flow improved.
So much so in fact, that when the simulation was modeled to be nothing but driverless cars journey times fell by 11 per cent and delays were cut by 40 per cent. This is because driverless cars are able to travel much closer together due to superior reaction times if the car has to break.
Furthermore, driverless cars are better at maintaining a constant speed, reducing the likelihood of a car suddenly breaking, which in turns causes all the cars behind to have to slow down or stop.
The report said that a 12 per cent cut in delays and a 21 per cent improvement in journey times were witnessed in this scenarios.
Transport minister Johns Hayes said the data underlined the huge potential for driverless cars to improve the UK's roads and tackle traffic jams that blight most major urban areas.
"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," he said.
He added too that the government was keen to embrace the benefits of driverless cars given the huge potential they have for helping less able citizens to get around.
"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."
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