Anyone who has ever driven through Dublin’s bustling centre at rush hour will know the gear-grinding frustration of sitting in stationary traffic for what seems like an eternity.
In recent years congestion has actually reduced by a significant amount; 9.7% less since 2010, according to data from satnav maker TomTom, who ranked Dublin as the 10th most congested city in the world back in 2014. Increased spending on infrastructure has been a major factor in reducing traffic, and projects such as improved cycling facilities and longer Luas trams have certainly played their part.
But as the economy grows, and Dublin’s population swells, what else can be done to ease the flowing of traffic through the already busy streets?
One answer could lie in the technology of tomorrow. Some researchers have speculated that self driving cars could ease congestion in cities by up to 50%, due to the ability to remove human error and chain reaction delays, known as ‘convoy effect’ from the roads. This occurs when a driver brakes, causing all of the drivers behind them to brake accordingly, which can cause tailbacks for many miles.
The removal of human error could also have a huge impact of road safety. According to the US’s Department for Transport, 94% of all traffic accidents are caused by human error. Given that over 1.2 million people are killed worldwide in traffic accidents, potentially thousands of lives could be saved through automation.
Dublin’s Mckinsey Global Institute has predicted that fully automated vehicles could also be more fuel and environmentally efficient, potentially reducing carbon emissions by up to 300 million tonnes per year.
And while self-driving cars may still seem like a thing of sci-fi films, the leaps in development in recent years can’t be ignored.
Google’s autonomous vehicles have already clocked up an impressive 1.5 million road miles, and many other major car manufacturers are also test driving their own self driven vehicles on roads in the US.
On top of that, Volvo announced this week that they plan to release a self driven car onto the market within five years.
So who knows? Dublin’s roads could look very different in a few years time. For the time being, however, it’s probably quicker just going on your bike.
Watch the video below to see Google’s self-driven cars out for a spin.