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How autonomous vehicles reduce traffic congestion

With the support of May Mobility, you can introduce autonomous transit vehicles and their related infrastructure into your city.

May Mobility's Toyota Sienna drives along a city street lined with large buildings

According to a study conducted by the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), traffic congestion has been getting more severe for decades. Rush hour, a once-accurate term, now lasts for almost six hours a day in our largest cities, adding around 40 percent more time to a journey.

For city planners and roadway engineers, trying to unpack and resolve the problem of urban congestion can be a nightmare. But there’s one up-and-coming traffic solution that has the potential to be particularly effective for reducing congestion, even in large cities: autonomous vehicles (AVs).

Autonomous vehicles provide superior driving efficiency

If even a single car brakes too quickly, the resulting butterfly effect can create traffic congestion across the city. But while little can be done to affect human driving habits, this isn’t true for autonomous vehicles.

Using sensors, cameras, and other hardware and software, autonomous cars typically maintain a consistent buffer between themselves and the car in front. This means they potentially brake less often, which helps prevent congestion from occurring. In fact, a study by Alexandre Bayen of the University of California showed that just one autonomous vehicle can reduce congestion by moderating the speed of human road users.

At May Mobility, we take advantage of this quality by combining sensor technology with our Multi-Policy Decision-Making (MPDM) system. These work together to not only see the road and react quickly but also to instantly simulate thousands of possibilities to anticipate potential hazards. That way, our autonomous vehicles can make carefully calculated driving decisions aimed at improving driving efficiency and optimize traffic flow while keeping our riders safe.

Benefits of May Mobility’s microtransit solutions

1) Increased ride sharing

When congestion becomes a chronic issue for a city’s main highways, the first instinct of many city planners is to expand them. But large roadworks typically cause even more delays and encourage more people to use private vehicles once they’re finished. This also results in cities that are oriented around cars rather than people, with the impacts of a reduction in available green space and the loss of local character.

Rather than forcing existing infrastructure to accommodate more vehicles, you can combat congestion much more effectively by reducing the number of vehicles on the road. That means taking steps to increase the accessibility and appeal of shared transportation.

Unfortunately, the timed schedules and fixed travel routes of buses and trains limit how many travelers benefit from their implementation. But these problems don’t apply to our on-demand AV microtransit.

Our autonomous vehicles can be booked at the rider’s convenience with just a few clicks of our free app or by calling a local phone number. Since riders choose their destination, autonomous microtransit offers a much faster and more direct service, even when shared. This is especially valuable for suburban and rural residents whose routes aren’t served by other public transit options.

By making ride-sharing an appealing public transit alternative through the deployment of autonomous vehicles, cities can minimize vehicle density and relieve traffic congestion.

2) Effective first-mile and last-mile transit

Buses, trains, trams and other public transport services are extremely useful for moving large groups along heavily trafficked routes. But many travelers, such as those in spread-out rural areas, struggle to make the shorter journeys to and from these services.

While adding niche transport routes could fix this issue, many cities don’t have the resources or drivers necessary. As a result, even people who rely on public transit often need to access it using private vehicles. And since they already need to drive, many drivers eventually forgo public transport altogether, contributing to high congestion at peak travel times.

Our on-demand autonomous vehicles solve this first-mile and last-mile transit problem by extending the reach of existing infrastructure. This greater transit equity makes public transport a superior option, thereby reducing the congestion caused by private vehicles. Autonomous vehicles can also help improve residents’ access to essential services such as medical care and grocery shopping, which significantly raises their quality of life.

Address traffic challenges with autonomous technology from May Mobility

In partnership with May Mobility, cities can introduce autonomous transit vehicles and their related infrastructure to underserved communities in as little as six to 12 months. In addition to providing the necessary vehicles, we conduct comprehensive transit analysis to identify critical bottlenecks and optimize the use of autonomous vehicles to augment existing transit routes. Our autonomous vehicles also collect data as they travel your streets, unlocking further insights and driving continuous improvement in your transport system.

To date, May Mobility has successfully deployed autonomous transit vehicles in 10 cities across the U.S. and Japan and has delivered over 320,000 rides. Not only has this reduced congestion, but it can make urban travel safer, greener and more accessible. And since we also assist with federal and state funding initiatives, cities can achieve these improvements while keeping costs to a minimum.

Contact us today to find out how our autonomous vehicles could help you solve traffic congestion in your city.

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We love meeting transit agencies, cities, campuses, organizations and businesses where they are to bring autonomy to their mobility ecosystem—and fill their transportation gaps for the long haul. Ready to partner up? Let’s talk.

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