Understanding risks and opportunities for ramp metering control in a mixed-autonomy future

Principal Investigator(s):

Raphael Stern, Assistant Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

Vehicle automation has the potential to dramatically alter the fundamental dynamics of traffic flow. This is true both for fully automated vehicles, as well as vehicles with partial automation technology such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) that are already commercially available today. By changing the dynamics of traffic flow, these emerging technologies will also influence the efficacy of traffic flow-based control strategies such as ramp metering. As one of the leading deployments of ramp metering globally, Minnesota roadways may see substantial change in the efficacy of ramp metering strategies as traffic dynamics change.

With this motivation in mind, this project will answer how ramp metering strategies employed in Minnesota may be influenced by different vehicle automation scenarios such as automated vehicle market penetration rates both for proposed, fully automated vehicles and currently available low-level automated vehicles. Additionally, this project will develop strategies to keep Minnesota ramp meters effective under scenarios with increased autonomy. Furthermore, under the new traffic flow-density relationship that is emerging in a mixed autonomy traffic flow, traditional ramp metering may create unsafe conditions due to rapidly propagating queues. This project will also address safety considerations for ramp metering in an automated future.

Project details: