Every time we get out on the road, we hardly see the road; all we get to see is honking cars jam-packed. The population is not the only reason causing traffic woes. Another reason is the inefficiency one carries when he/she takes his/her car out.
A way to fix the problem of traffic is to make roads in more than one dimension (think of several layered roads or tunnels). Tunnels would still mean we would appreciate our inefficiencies with driving and not fixing them.
Besides the number of cars on the road, the two inefficiencies causing traffic troubles are
- Occupying extra space on the road because of fixed size vehicle.
- Latency in responding to events happening on the road.
Let's understand an idea that fixes these two inefficiencies.
Personal Utility Vehicle
I wonder what if there could be a vehicle for just one person - the rider. Don't kill me yet - I know bikes do exist. I mean, what if a vehicle like a car - with a roof over your head and windshield around you - exists but only allows one person to sit inside.
The magic of such a vehicle would be that it can attach itself to three other such vehicles. Once connected, the fuel and energy could be shared such that the overall energy spent together by four vehicles is less than energy consumed by four vehicles independently.
Riders can either ride solo or attach themselves with other riders to save cost. Because each vehicle will be its own capsule, there won't be awkward silences when riding with someone.
But hey, I prefer to be driven around!
Of course, you do.
There's a reason I have called the person inside the vehicle a rider and not a driver. If we would still be driving these vehicles (pods?), we can never fix the inefficiency of latency in responding to the events.
Think of yourself stuck in a jam. When the car in front of you moves, do you move immediately to keep up with the car? There's almost always a tiny delay between the car in front moving and you accelerating yours. The delay is caused by the reaction times of our minds.
Here's a video explaining the problem -
As the video also suggests, the solution to this problem would be to keep your vehicle always in the middle of the car in front and back of you. I agree it is such a careful coordination to maintain for human beings. But hey, not for computers.
You like to be driven around, and so shall you get. The vehicle would drive itself removing all inefficiencies of a human driver. As a bonus, the vehicle could park itself in the smart parking that some companies are working on. You would simply get down the vehicle and let it park itself.
A self-driving personal utility vehicle that can attach itself to others can be an efficient solution to the traffic problems. Of course, we can still have tunnels and multiple layered roads to increase the throughput of our roads further.