With autonomous cars not only will we see the numbers of drivers and accidents going down, but also traffic elements will change of completely disappear. Traffic signals for instance. Those are thought for human drivers and pedestrians to get guidance, when they are safe to cross.
Driverless cars don’t need traffic signals. Here is a video that demonstrates how an intersection looks like with autonomous cars.
Today this is difficult to imagine, and watching those animations we break out in sweat. This video is an excerpt from a longer video titled The Simple Solution to Traffic.
Traffic signals are surprisingly expensive. They cost between 35,000 and 250,000 Euro. Add installation costs, the annual operation costs of 5,000 Euro and energy costs. All that has to be budgeted and paid by operators, cities, and communities.
Driverless cars that don’t need traffic signals also offer another advantage. They don’t need to stop and wait, which means no fuel is wasted for braking and restarting, or used while idling waiting for the green light. That way traffic stays fluid, and passengers reach their destinations quicker.
It’s still unclear, how such intersections work in a mixed environment with driverless cars and pedestrians. A (humorous) video example gives me the creeps.
Traffic signs are another victim of driverless cars. Alone in Germany there are 20 million of them, plus 4 million direction signs. Each one costs between 80 to 200 Euro, without installation costs.
Autonomous cars may not only help to avoid accidents, they also save a lot of public money.