Driverless cars could cut traffic delays by more than 40%, according to new research.
A study by the Department for Transport used computer software to create virtual models of different parts of the UK road network, including urban roads and motorways. This showed that delays and traffic flow improved as the proportion of automated vehicles increased.
At peak traffic periods on major roads with up to 100% of driverless vehicles, journey times were reduced by more than 11% and delays cut by more than 40%.
The study suggests that driverless cars offer major potential benefits when the proportion of them on the road is higher than the proportion of more traditional vehicles, the Department for Transport explained.
Commenting on the research, transport minister Johns Hayes said:
“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.”
Next month, Nissan will conduct on-road demonstrations of autonomous vehicles in London using a modified Nissan LEAF.
Passengers, including government officials and technical and safety experts, will be given the opportunity to experience and test the technology in a live environment.
The news follows recent announcements that both the updated Qashqai and the new LEAF will be equipped with autonomous drive technology to enable single-lane autonomous driving on motorways.