A motion design study on the future of autonomous driving. Birds flock, bees swarm, and fish school. It is precision action; they move in synchrony, close to one another, all obeying the leader precisely, immediately, without collision. Except there is no leader. *
A platoon is a simplified swarm, working in one dimension. In a platoon, one vehicle follow the one just in front, mimicking its speed precisely. When a sequence of cars travels in a platoon, a driver is only needed for the first vehicle: the others just tag along.
Some of the swarm benefits apply here as well: increased density of traffic and reduced energy trough drafting. *
With swarms, we wouldn't need traffic lanes, stop signs, or traffic lights. At an intersection, the swarm would simply follow its rules to avoid crashing into crossing traffic. Each pod would adjust its speed and position, so intersecting streams of traffic would magically cross one another, with no pod ever hitting another. *
Swarming has lots of benefits. Because swarming pods can travel very closely to one another, more pods can fit on a given highway, relieving traffic considerably. Moreover, normal traffic slows down as the density increases: swarms would not have to slow down until the density reached far higher levels. *
Swarms could be programmed to pave way for pods with higher priority, like ambulances, firefighter- or police pods.
Visual & Motion design
Donald Norman, The Design of Future Things (2007)