Will autonomous driving make traffic worse, as this LA Times article argues? Assuredly, if we continue on the track we are on.
Many, including this LA Times journalist, have argued that more people will embrace long commutes if they don’t have to hold the wheel.
There’s another pressing concern: the infernal slowness and timidity of self-driving cars. It is one thing to be safe, but it is another to be a stick in the mud.
Dense traffic in Delhi and Cairo flows not because drivers are careful, but because they are aggressive, always willing to fill in the gaps and keep the flow moving.
In contrast, self-driving cars in the Bay Area are failing to match speed with the cars around them. Often, human drivers going at 50mph try to navigate around robot drivers going 35.
If autonomy is going to help, we need it to focus on flow. Ironically, the safe and efficient thing is to match the speed of humans rather than follow a static speed limit.
#autonomousvehicles are improving, but we need to ensure they help the flow of traffic rather than slow things down.