This idea has been around for awhile, but here's a new experiment showing successful results. This is something I hope to see in future Tesla software. Experiments show that a few self-driving cars can dramatically improve traffic flow The team conducted field experiments in Tucson, Arizona, in which a single autonomous vehicle circled a track continuously with at least 20 other human-driven cars. Under normal circumstances, human drivers naturally create stop-and-go traffic, even in the absence of bottlenecks, lane changes, merges or other disruptions, Work said. This phenomenon is called the "phantom traffic jam." Researchers found that by controlling the pace of the autonomous car in the study, they were able to smooth out the traffic flow for all the cars. For the first time, researchers demonstrated experimentally that even a small percentage of such vehicles can have a significant impact on the road, eliminating waves and reducing the total fuel consumption by up to 40 percent. Moreover, the researchers found that conceptually simple and easy to implement control strategies can achieve the goal. Full paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1705.01693.pdf Traffic waves are phenomena that emerge when the vehicular density exceeds a critical threshold. Considering the presence of increasingly automated vehicles in the traffic stream, a number of research activities have focused on the influence of automated vehicles on the bulk traffic flow. In the present article, we demonstrate experimentally that intelligent control of an autonomous vehicle is able to dampen stop-and-go waves that can arise even in the absence of geometric or lane changing triggers. Precisely, our experiments on a circular track with more than 20 vehicles show that traffic waves emerge consistently, and that they can be dampened by controlling the velocity of a single vehicle in the flow. We compare metrics for velocity, braking events, and fuel economy across experiments. These experimental findings suggest a paradigm shift in traffic management: flow control will be possible via a few mobile actuators (less than 5%) long before a majority of vehicles have autonomous capabilities.