Instead of fully autonomous vehicles, Think of cars that only start to self-drive once traffic density reaches a certain threshold limit. Using various systems it keeps track of all cars on the roadway and coordinates them in the most efficient manner.
Help ease in fully self-driving cars
Save time on the early morning commute.
help reduce the discomfort from sitting too long in traffic
Opens up more time for you to do other things while stuck in traffic
Traffic lights and traffic police aren't really directing traffic in the most efficient way, they just reduce traffic to one point only for it to pile up in another place.
People are really slow in reacting to signs and other vehicles on the road.
In driving school they say every other person on the road is crazy but you and sometimes it's true, This only compounds to more traffic.
The system could start as a dashboard addon that uses satelite imaging and gps to understand it's position on the road and a system of radar imaging systems on the car body to detect the position of other cars relative to itself. It seems complicated but such a system is already in use as the drive assist features in MG motors.
I think it's too much though and could be toned down a little, Sometimes progress is in little steps
The traffic assist features could be made standard feature as it's a universal problem. Although not as effective it could act as a place holder for full automation.Adding in gps mapping in essence gives everyone a co-driver who keeps track of everyone else on the road for you and tells you how to drive relative to them
Phase 2 involves turning traffic assist into auto traffic drive, Once the traffic density reaches a point that forces you drove lower than a speed of say 10 KMpH it initiates in all cars and activates a hivemind system. The system is aware of each car's destination, traffic density , and the flow rate per hour. Using those factors it automatically generates a flow pattern that allows for each car to get to where it needs to be at the shortest time possible. Eventually people will get so used to it that a fully self driving vehicle wouldn't sound like such a radical option.
While working on this Idea I came across a Traffic simulator, It shows how traffic starts seemingly out of nowhere. I spent a really long time trying to make traffic dissapear at that intersection, and failed. If anyone could make it happen I'd be really interested in the how. The bottom line was people are not really built for selflessness, and traffic capitalizes on that. Everyone trying to get there fast just ends up making everyone get there slower. Automation seems to be the logical answer. The model I found to base this upon was ants. A study showed that ants actually move faster when more of them were on the road. Another study shows a comparison between ant and vehicular traffic patterns. I also came across this very detailed report on phantom traffic jams which was very interesting along with a video showing it happen in practice.