Driverless cars and traffic

Andrew Sullivan

This is what intersections would look like if there were autonomous driverless cars:

Emily Badger writes:

Right now, you may wind up sitting at a red light for 45 seconds even though no one is passing through the green light in the opposite direction. But you don’t have to do that in a world where traffic flows according to computer communication instead of the systems that have been built with human behavior in mind. … Because of this, we won’t need traffic lights at all (or stop signs, for that matter). Traffic will constantly flow, and at a rate that would probably unnerve the average human driver.

Instead of focusing on large cost public transport infrastructure projects we should instead be focusing on providing the data networks and roading structures that would support a huge fleet of driverless cars.

Instead of driving being dead time for the driver you would instead be able to complete tasks otherwise taken up with driving. For me it would mean being able to publish a post about something I just heard on the radio, or saw as I drove by.


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  • BJ

    Holly s..t! And you’d be happy to trust a data network with your life. What happens if the network goes down?

    • StacyMcNaught

       ummm, the cars would stop i would guess

      • It’s a nice thought – but emergency doors are supposed to be able to be opened in a lot of buildings and lifts return to ground floor now. How many times have you heard of people trapped in buildings and lifts because that didn’t happen.

        A far better solution is to go the opposite way. The more you put control into the hands of the driver the less inclined they will become to find other things to do.

        Some suggestions: Remove automatic gear boxes, cigarette lighters, audio devices, GPS, mobile phone capability. All of these distract from control of the vehicle and have been enabled by removing the driver needing to change gear by hand. Some vehicles nowadays have more non-driving features than people have in their own homes.

  • Johno1234

    I just hope the cars aren’t running Windows. Wouldn’t want to be sitting in the middle of that intersection waiting on a reboot.

  • Brian Smaller

    I wouldn’t want to trust my life to a bored programmer who missed an IF statement somewhere.

  • Sean

    The network and driverless cars don’t have to be perfect, just better than humans.

    If such a system brought the road toll down to, say, 50 per year, would it not be worth it?

  • Guest

    But would the driverless cars understand the new give way rule that comes in on the 25th? I’m definitely going to be avoiding intersections that day….

  • Richard

    Here are a couple of real life examples powered not by computers but by horns