Autobot is not a real A.I., it is totally hypothetical but it—and its features—can be valuable as a model for designing artificial intelligence. It has an adequate model of the world, made up of learned and tested information; it has goals which direct its behaviour and is able to create, modify, and improve these goals; it is capable of problem solving; it is capable of deducing new information; and it is capable of formulating strategies to achieve goals, and of adjusting those strategies as necessary. We can look at Autobot as a model for designing other A.I.s which can use the same basic architecture and design features to approach their own tasks and problems.
While it requires an investment in some infrastructure, and in creating the A.I. itself, using Autobot to control traffic networks is hugely more efficient than letting humans control traffic lights and maintenance. It just is not possible for a team of human controllers to adapt to changing circumstances, or micromanage things like case by case optimal red light lengths, as effectively as Autobot. This is true of to an A.I. in any position, it will require some investment of infrastructure to set it up with the necessary sensors to retrieve enough information to create an adequate model of the world, but the things it is capable of makes it more than worth the expenditure.
By studying realistically, and systematically designed A.I. like Autobot, instead of anthropomorphized A.I.s like HAL we can analyze and put to rest classic fears of rogue A.I.s hellbent on destruction. It is right for humans to fear that which they do not understand, but as its architects, humans will be able to understand an A.I. at least as well as they understand one another
There should be no worry about A.I. making humans redundant. Autobot (or any A.I)'s friendliness supergoal will cause it to value humanity and individual humans and their right to autonomy. An A.I. coordinating a city could do so in tandem with, not instead of, humans. It is possible for a team of people to control all of the traffic lights in a city, but people get bored and sick and quit, and they need breaks for lunch and cannot work continuously. A machine that controls the traffic signals can operate forever, never takes a day off, and never needs to be paid. Since it respects human autonomy, an A.I. with a friendliness supergoal will only take over the jobs delegated to it. It would be more efficient, and safe, to make Autobot directly responsible for piloting all of the cars (as seen in I, Robot) but humans are not currently willing to relinquish control of their cars and so Autobot seeks to fulfill its goals within this limitation, rather than challenging it. Humans can keep whatever jobs for themselves that they please but for this task, and many others, automation just makes more sense.