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KTH study finds self-driving cars could free up rush hour traffic, reduce need for parking spaces

A fleet of shared self-driving cars in Stockholm could reduce rush hour traffic volumes by 14 cars for every shared vehicle, according to researchers at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Meanwhile, the remaining automobile commuters would need only 20% of the metropolitan area's existing parking spaces, their study says.

The study sheds further light on what can happen if cities build on the growing interest in car-share programs and other alternatives to car ownership, indicating that self-driving technology could be a game-changer.

Driverless cars are the smart car, and just as revolutionary as the smart phone. They will revolutionize car ownership, lead to more flexible traffic, with far fewer crashes. And they will free up valuable space in cities that is currently occupied by parked cars.

—Pierre-Jean Rigole of KTH Centre for Traffic Research

Rigole says the study looked at the possibility of a fleet of 9,700 Shared Autonomous Vehicles (SAV) with four seats each being introduced to the Stockholm metropolitan region, where an estimated 136,000 automobiles are driven in the daily commute.

Already in Stockholm taxi traffic accounts for half the total traffic, with about 272,000 such trips daily.

The study also presupposes that people agree to carpool, and that they accept 13% longer travel times plus a wait time of six minutes before the self-driving car arrives to collect its passenger. The study took account of only car-based commuting within the greater Stockholm area—not long trips or mode-shift from public transport.

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Comments

mahonj

You could do almost the same thing with shared taxis and a computer booking system.
In fact, it would be slightly faster as you would only have to load up 3 people.
Alternately, you could use 6/7 seaters and carry 5 passengers with the possibility of a 6th passenger overflow.

The problem is that people use cars (and also taxis) so inefficiently (single passenger).

The taxi unions would presumably have a few things to say on the matter of shared taxis, and also shared, unmanned taxis.

ai_vin

Didn't I and others say much the same thing the last time the topic of self-driving cars came up?

Well, now it looks like we've got a study to back us up.

HarveyD

A fleet of shared electric autonomous drive 7 passenger Nissan NV-200, could replace ALL existing large polluting ICEVs taxis, many private ICEVs and many large polluting noisy diesel city buses.

This change could clean air pollution in many large city center, reduce accidents, traffic jams.

Existing taxis and bus drivers would have to be recycled to service and clean the shared e-vehicle fleet and charging facilities.

Roger Pham

If cars can drive themselves, 1/2 of the jobs will be gone, replaced by robots...automatically solve the rush hour traffic jam problem. Half of the population will be on welfare, sitting on their behinds and exercising their thumbs, watching Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Days of our Lives, etc...

Alex_C

A question for the fans of self-driving cars:
Don't you think that the current sitting arrangement will be obsolete in self-driving cars?
Why would one choose to sit, if (s)he can choose to lay down and sleep. Plus sitting position guaranties far more likely injuries in case of an accident, compared to lying down surrounded with soft pillows. Even air bags could be made redundant.
Probably all seats should be foldable to form flat bed(s), smth like in Honda Fit/Jazz.

If the system becomes so reliable, there would be no need for glass windshield, install fwd looking cameras, in case passengers are interested to see, on a display, where they are going.
The roof could be lower, reducing air drag and fuel consumption.

I know that with self-driving cars it would be easier (for a human driver) to squeeze in, in front of them, as they would try to nicely keep distance, and avoid obstacles (and acci-dents).

HarveyD

Replacing humans with semi or fully automated machines has being done many times in many fields before with positive effects on standards of living. USA has been the leader and could be so again with autonomous drive vehicles.

Replacing unreliable dangerous human drivers with autonomous safer driving systems will be very positive in many ways.

Liberated, full or part time drivers, will be progressively retrained to do something else, like cleaning our dirty cities and parks, policing dangerous areas, controlling drug use, fighting ISIS (home and abroad), fixing streets, roads and bridges, taking better care of elders, working on farms to produce more food and feed stocks for local consumption and export etc.

mahonj

@Alex, I think we will see all sorts of things if self driving cars become a reality.
In some cases, we could have mini 4-6 seat taxi pods as described above.
In other cases, we will have private cars and vans where people indeed will have beds, rather like a sleeper carriage on a train or first class in an plane.
Imagine bedding down for the night in your car as it drives at 60 mph (i.e. not very fast) to your destination. Then it parks in the motel car park while you remain sleeping.
At 7 am (or whatever) you get up and have a shower and breakfast in the motel. Then, you do a little work while it drives you to your appointment.
People could spend even more time in their vehicles if they could sleep and work (or play) in them.

@Harvey, "liberated" ex drivers would mostly end up on the dole queues (IMHO).

Either way, large scale introduction of "real" self driving cars will have a huge impact on society. [ A "real" self driving car is one which can legally drive you when you are drunk, asleep, reading, dead etc. ]
A system which can only steer a car on the motorway with a sober/awake driver in it is not a real self driving car [IMHO].

HarveyD

-mahonj...agree with you that a certain percentage of ex-taxis and city bus drivers would be temporarily unemployed, specially those who refuse to be retrained.

However, it is no reason to stop progress.

Had we done that before, 1000s of new technologies such as automated data machines, ATM machines, a multitude of agriculture machines etc that replaced many 1000s workers would not have been put in operation.

Soon, all blood tests will be fully automated, self-serviced and evaluated in minutes, without delays and mistakes at much lower cost. No more waiting in line for hours.

There will be many more before the end of the century but driverless vehicles may be one of the most useful and appreciated.

Account Deleted

For anyone interested to follow the news in autonomous vehicles I can highly recommend bookmarking Green Car Congress dedicated tag on the subject.

http://www.greencarcongress.com/autonomous-driving/index.html

This tag was set up in march 10, 2014 and has all the interesting news in this area since that time. Autonomous battery electric cars and trucks (and even auto campers for simultaneous long-distance night travel and hotel accommodation) are the future of land transportation because it will lower the cost of land transportation significantly (at least 40%), it will lower traffic accidents by at least 90% (as 90% of all accidents are caused by human errors), it will drastically reduce congestion, it will eliminate all pollution problems related to land transportation and most importantly it will turn time wasted on driving into productive time spend on pleasure, work, sleeping, resting or dining.

When fully autonomous cars are ready to hit consumers in about 2022 to 2025 it will quickly change everything in the global auto manufacturing business and global land transportation industry. Those who do not get this technology out in time will lose customers rapidly and ultimately bankrupt.

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