Self-driving cars will potentially change our lives for the better in many ways. Obviously, providing transportation for the handicapped or the elderly, tops the list. Giving us the ability to multitask during our commute is also a huge perk. And of course, reducing accidents. The other positive is reducing traffic congestion.
New hardware now standard on new Tesla vehicles
Cars with emergency automatic braking can stop nearly immediately if needed. This is much unlike the few seconds or more that it takes a human to react. So, the self-driving cars can travel at much closer distances, freeing up more roadway. Also, less unecessary stop and go, will keep traffic moving.
Hyphothetically, you could have a whole line of cars, mere inches apart, traveling at speeds in excess of 90 mph. The vehicles would almost be traveling as a train-like unit. Meanwhile, drag is reduced because the cars, aside from the front runner, would be traveling in the vacuum created by the leading car. Higher speeds wouldn't cause efficiency problems quite so much in this situation. This is increadingly important when assuming that we are talking about electric cars, and range issues.
Teslarati compared it to geese:
Ever wonder why geese travel in that cool V-formation? Similar reason. They avoid the turbulence from the goose ahead and conserve energy. Being cooperative sorts they trade places with the leader, who drops back and lets the next goose in line take over the toughest place, which is the lead. That way all the geese get to where they’re going quicker and with less fatigue. In our terms, with less battery energy expended.
So, there would have to be some type of system so that leaders could take turns, because no one would ever want to be up front. Or maybe leaders just periodically take it upon themselves to drop back and the following driver understands that it is his/her time to lead. It would eventually become a common courtesy of future drivers. One can only hope ...