Autonomous vehicles improve traffic flow

February 19, 2018

Improvements in traffic flow and fuel consumption are boosted when even a few autonomous vehicles are immersed in bulk traffic, according to research by a Rutgers University-Camden scholar, Benedetto Piccoli, and a team of researchers who recently presented their findings to policymakers in Washington, D.C.

At an exhibit at the Washington Auto Show on Jan. 24 and 25, the multidisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in traffic flow theory, control theory, robotics, cyber-physical systems, and transportation engineering demonstrated to policymakers how autonomous vehicles in their National Science Foundation-funded study helped to prevent traffic jams and can dissipate them when they appear.

The NSF invited the researchers to discuss their work with auto industry leaders and government officials, including U.S. Senator John Thune, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

"The experience was great since we had to interact with a new audience," says Piccoli, the Joseph and Loretta Lopez Chair in Mathematics at Rutgers University-Camden, where he also serves as associate provost for research.

Piccoli joined collaborators Dan Work of Vanderbilt University and Benjamin Seibold of Temple University to share details of their research, and gave visitors a chance to view their experiments through a virtual-reality experience by watching a 3D representation of the experiments in which a single autonomous vehicle circled a track continuously with at least 20 other human-driven cars.

Human drivers naturally create stop-and-go traffic, such as when someone makes a lane change or merges, or because of natural oscillations in human driving. The researchers found that by controlling the pace of the autonomous car in their field experiments, the autonomous car controlled the traffic flow by dissipating the stop-and-go waves so that traffic wasn't oscillating as it does when all of the cars are driven by humans. The researchers determined that even a small percentage of autonomous vehicles (5 percent) could have a significant impact in eliminating waves and reducing the total fuel consumption by up to 40 percent and the braking events by up to 99 percent.

"Most of the policymakers, car manufacturers, car dealers, and others we talked with were very impressed with the research results and got a positive feeling about autonomous vehicles," says Piccoli. "They all agreed that the impact on real traffic economy and environmental impact could be of great importance."

The NSF invited the research team to present at the auto show as part of the NSF-funded Cyber-Physical Systems research project on Control of Vehicular Traffic Flow via Low Density Autonomous Vehicles.

The researchers also had the opportunity to attend two U.S. Senate hearings regarding transportation, energy, and manufacturing research, which included policymakers from across the nation and from around the globe, including China, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Korea, and the United Kingdom.
The team's paper, "Dissipation of Stop-and-Go Waves via Control of Autonomous Vehicles: Field experiments," is available in and will appear on Transportation Research - part C.

Rutgers University

Related Fuel Consumption Articles from Brightsurf:

Excessive alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic
The full impact of COVID-19 on alcohol use is not yet known, but rates have been rising during the first few months of the pandemic.

Evolution of consumption: A psychological ownership framework
Technological innovations are rapidly changing how we consume goods and services.

Comprehensive look at US fuel economy standards show big savings on fuel and emissions
In one of the first comprehensive assessments of the fuel economy standards in the US, researchers found that, over their 40-year history, the standards helped reduce reliance on foreign oil producers, saved $5 trillion in fuel costs and prevented 14 billion metric tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.

A smart way to predict building energy consumption
In a time of aging infrastructure and increasingly smart control of buildings, the ability to predict how buildings use energy -- and how much energy they use -- has remained elusive, until now.

Luxury consumption can fuel 'impostor syndrome' among some buyers
If you have the money, what could be wrong about purchasing a Swiss watch or an Italian sports car?

The influence of alcohol consumption among cohabitating partners
Research has linked a partner's or spouse's drinking with changes in alcohol-related behaviors, but few studies have considered only cohabiting relationships.

Competitive people are more prone to drug consumption
A Psychology research team at the University of Cordoba (Spain) studied how personality influences substance abuse among young people.

No need to cut down red and processed meat consumption
The researchers performed four systematic reviews focused on randomized controlled trials and observational studies looking at the impact of red meat and processed meat consumption on cardiometabolic and cancer outcomes.

Estimate of cigarette consumption in England
Estimated total cigarette consumption in England fell by almost one-quarter between 2011 and 2018 in a study comparing survey and sales data.

Clarifying the economic value of adjusting the power consumption
The economic value of demand response that adjusts the power consumption has not been clarified.

Read More: Fuel Consumption News and Fuel Consumption Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to