Toyota scientist forecasts traffic impact of self-driving cars

While the idea of self-driving cars may be appealing to some, one scientist believes the technology could increase the frequency of the biggest pet peeve for many motorists.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Ken Laberteaux, senior principal scientist for Toyota's North American team, said the self-driving car could create a dynamic in our culture similar to what we saw after World War II. That's when big, smooth highways were designed and made longer commutes more bearable. There was a sudden increase in people wanting to get out of town and with it came sprawl-related traffic and environmental problems.

But those who are more optimistic about the self-driving push argue the cars being designed are more environmentally friendly and could eventually have their own lanes, freeing up space on the roads.

Laberteaux said many cities are experiencing a rebirth of sorts and that traveling may be increasingly attractive if driving a vehicle is about as strenuous as sitting on a couch.

In May, Google revealed a new prototype of its driverless car, which has no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brakes.


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