LONDON, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- A study using virtual modelling showed that driverless cars could cut delays in the future by as much as 40 percent, the Department for Transport (DfT) said Friday.
The department released details of a new study in which computer software was used to create virtual models of different parts of Britain's road network.
Virtual driverless cars were "driven" on a range of highways, including urban roads and a 20 km stretch of motorway.
"Delays and traffic flow were all shown to improve as the proportion of automated vehicles increased above specific levels," said a spokesman for the DfT.
"The study demonstrates that driverless cars offer major potential benefits when the proportion of them on the road is higher than the proportion of older, more traditional vehicles."
The DfT said the study is an important first step towards understanding the full range of complex effects of new technologies. It paves the way for further trials and research to help ensure that the transition to driverless or automated vehicles is safe and beneficial for all.
Johns Hayes, minister of state at the DfT, said: "This exciting and extensive study shows that driverless cars could vastly improve the flow of traffic in our towns and cities, offering huge benefits to motorists including reduced delays and more reliable journey times."
"Driverless cars are just one example of cutting edge technology which could transform the way in which we travel in the future, particularly in providing new opportunities for those with reduced mobility," said the official.
"This study reinforces our belief that these technologies offer major benefits and this government will support their research."
The study examined different scenarios including the level of automation, the proportion of vehicles equipped with the technology and different automated driving styles.
The main findings of the report showed that on major roads where traditional vehicles outnumbered automated vehicles, benefits are relatively small.
But as the percentage of driverless cars on the roads increases, when measuring peak traffic periods with a maximum of up to 100 percent of driverless vehicles, journey times were reduced by more than 11 percent and delays cut by more than 40 percent.
The study also showed that on urban roads, benefits are seen in peak traffic periods, even with low levels of automated vehicles on roads. The benefits include a 12 percent improvement in delays and a 21 percent improvement in journey time reliability.