A fleet of driverless cars working together as a fleet will be able to improve traffic flow by at least 35 per cent, a new study by researchers from the University of Cambridge has shown. 

The researchers programmed a fleet of miniature robotic cars to drive themselves around a two-lane circuit in order to observe how the traffic flow changed when one car stopped.

When the autonomous cars were not programmed to drive in a cooperative manner, any that came up behind the stationary car had to slow down or stop and wait for a gap in traffic in the other lane. This resulted in a queue forming that decreased overall traffic flow, just like on a real road.

The researchers then programmed the cars to drive cooperatively, so that when one car stopped in its lane, it sent out a signal to all the others. Cars in the other lane responded by slowing down slightly so that those stuck behind the stationary car were able to change lanes quickly, without having to stop or slow down significantly.

In addition, when a remote-controlled car was introduced to the circuit and driven aggressively by one of the researchers, the autonomous cars gave way to each other in order to avoid any crashes.