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Study warns self-driving cars may cause endless traffic jams to avoid parking fees

A new study warns that self-driving cars “could more than double” vehicle traffic in cities as they cruise around town rather than having to pay hefty parking fees.

Even worse, since cruising around is cheaper at slower speeds, driverless cars will have an incentive to go as slow as possible, according to a new report — “The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem” — in the journal Transport Policy by transportation planner Adam Millard-Ball.

For instance, 2,000 driverless cars in downtown San Francisco could slow traffic to less than 2 miles per hour according to the study’s traffic micro-simulation model.

“Autonomous vehicles have no need to park at all,” warned Millard-Ball. “They can get around paying for parking by cruising. They will have every incentive to create havoc.”

This raises a few questions. What is to stop a company like Uber from programming future driverless cars to work together to slow traffic down and thereby optimize their revenue rather than minimize overall congestion? Also, what will the impact on air pollution be from this increased congestion?

Read more at Think Progress