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How Driverless Cars Could Make Traffic Dramatically Worse

A new simulation shows that comfortable rides can come with big congestion costs.
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Eric Brisson / Flickr

Safety is often celebrated as the biggest benefit of a world full of driverless cars, but two other presumed social improvements follow closely behind. One is that the technology could reduce traffic congestion, since shorter gaps between cars means more cars per lane. The other is that car travel will become more productive time for either business or pleasure—the way riding a train is today.

To wit: the way Mercedes envisions driverless interiors (top) isn't much different from the set-up already used in Amtrak's Acela (bottom):