Ali Reza Fayazi
Whenever we hear a speech from a politician, policy maker, or auto executive extolling the virtues of the self-driving car, it’s usually in reference to safety. Little wonder, considering roughly 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016 (which is a marked uptick from the year before). Humans are not universally good drivers, and many have paid with their lives over time.
But there are other benefits to self-driving vehicles, we’re told. With a degree of coordination—between vehicles, and with traffic infrastructure—traffic chaos should theoretically be banished, and less congestion means fewer pollutants.
Sunshine and roses for everyone!
We’re still a long way from that point, however. While the first (geofenced) level 4 autonomous vehicles should begin to appear on some streets around 2020 or 2021, it will be several decades before we get to the point where every car on your commute is self-driving.
For now, Clemson researcher Ali Reza Fayazi has provided a tantalizing glimpse at that future, a proof-of-concept study that shows a fully autonomous four-way traffic intersection is a hundred times more efficient at letting traffic flow than the intersections you and I currently navigate.
Because cars don’t sit idling at the lights, Fayazi calculated it would also deliver a 19 percent fuel saving.
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