DRIVERLESS cars can cause a traffic jam, as drivers avoid parking for parking fees, a scientist has warned.
Instead of looking for a place, the owners are expected to drive their empty vehicles slowly around and clog the city streets.
Professor Adam Millard-Ball likened it to the drivers who circled the arrivals areas of the airport in order not to pay – but it would lead to a "robot-filled blockade".
His study used game theory and a traffic simulation model to predict how San Francisco can be influenced.
It was found that only 2,000 driverless cars could slow traffic to below 2 miles per hour.
Prof. Millard-Ball, an expert on environmental studies, told the magazine "Transport Policy": "Autonomous vehicles can handle the creation of parking fees.
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"They have every incentive to create chaos." It costs around 30 pence an hour, compared to £ 26 a day for congestion charges and fees to park the day in a larger city.
And he said robotic car owners would have to pay a congestion charge, as in London, Stockholm and Singapore.
The professor said: "Self-driving cars have to pay to use the streets in the city – otherwise there will be chaos."