A recent study by Vanderbilt University and Ford Motor researchers showed that adaptive cruise control (ACC) systems can stop “phantom traffic jams” by incrementally adjusting the speed of all cars. In a series of 25 road tests comparing human drivers in a phantom jam with drivers enabling ACC, the researchers found only about 33% of drivers need to engage ACC for the human causes of phantom jams to disappear.
The researchers used 36 drivers in the experiment to replicate highway conditions across three lanes. The lead driver slowed from 60 miles per hour to 40 mph to simulate some sort of non-emergency situation. In the all-human group of drivers, the tail car slowed all the way to 15 mph, but in the all ACC group, the slowest car only reached 53 mph.
ACC systems are better at reacting to driving changes than humans because they react automatically, says Vanderbilt’s Dan Work.
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