Robert Maxwell wrote:
However, in order to achieve this, cars will need to be able to either (1) communicate with others in the near vicinity, or (2) be controlled by some central system coordinating the actions off all the cars in a certain area.
I've seen no indication that this kind of communication or central control is necessary. Google has been operating their driverless cars on public roads in real life traffic for (I think) a few years now. I would say any system predicated on central control or mutual communication (beyond what their sensors can show) is both premature optimization and
introduction of unnecessary failure points.
Each car should be self-contained and autonomous, responding to the conditions around it without any illusions that it has any control over or communication with anything else on the road.
To get the kind of real efficiency improvements that self-driving cars are capable of, coordination is absolutely necessary. If each car operates autonomously, it has to go slow enough and keep enough distance from other vehicles that it can react appropriately and safely in situations where it doesn't know what the other vehicles are going to do until the other vehicles actually start doing something. If the vehicles communicate with each other, they can safely cruise along at much higher speeds with only inches or perhaps a few feet between them, dramatically decreasing travel times, increasing road capacity, and potentially reducing fuel usage by reducing wind resistance.