Continuing with my theme of posts about self-driving cars, I wanted to share an article from Popular Mechanics describing another win for self-driving cars.
You're driving down a crowded highway and see an upcoming wave of glowing red brake lights. The car in front of you starts to brake, so you brake and cause the car behind you to do the same. Gridlock. A few miles down the road, when the logjam clears, you find that there was... nothing. No accident, no police pullover, no bottleneck, no highway construction. It was just pointless traffic with seemingly no cause.
Traffic engineers call this frustrating phenomenon "a phantom traffic jam." It's different than aggressive, bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, which is an overloaded roadway problem. Rather, a phantom jam is something that naturally arises when people drive fast enough and close enough together. But the key word here is "people." It turns out that if even a tiny percentage of the cars on the road are autonomous—think of a highway dotted with just 2 percent of something like Google's self-driving car—then the number of phantom traffic jams drops drastically.
Want the explanation? Read the rest of the article at PopularMechanics.com