Optimising signal control in CAV and VRU mixed environments

Image source: Synergistic Traffic Consultancy

The aim of this project is to explore how traffic controls can be optimised to accommodate both human-driven vehicles and autonomous vehicles, while considering vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, at intersections.


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Project background

The emergence of autonomous vehicles (AVs) in urban networks leads to new operational challenges that have received growing attention over the past few years. Of particular interest is the future paradigm wherein legacy (or human-operated) vehicles have been fully replaced with AVs.

In this futuristic context, several studies have shown that the management of urban networks may benefit from forecast technological advancements, such as improved trajectory control, automatic collision avoidance, or platooning.

However, the intermediate traffic state wherein legacy and autonomous vehicles co-exist, known as mixed-autonomy, has not been nearly examined as much by researchers. In such an intermediate traffic context, urban networks will need to adapt to make the most out of AV technology and allow the transition towards fully autonomous traffic, if this is ever to happen. The first AVs evolving in urban traffic networks are likely to have to abide by the existing infrastructure and legislation.

Of course, this picture may change rapidly. We conjecture that with the increase in AV demand, urban traffic networks will adapt, and that AV-specific infrastructure will be available to improve network operations at traffic intersections. Moreover, less attention has been given to the interaction of AVs and vulnerable road users at the intersections.

Project objectives

The project aims to develop traffic control methodologies and algorithms that will ease the transition from human-driven vehicles to connected and autonomous vehicles. By aiming to introduce changes that will firstly, improve traffic congestion under current environments, and secondly, facilitate the introduction of AV technology in mixed-autonomy environments. Whilst considering with an utmost importance the safety of vulnerable road users.

It will explore the optimisation of traffic signals, and the sufficient and effective use of spatial resources. Aimed at improving the coordination of vehicles at an intersection so that conflicts can be managed effectively, accounting for pedestrians and cyclists shared used of space, legacy infrastructure and driving behaviours, and the gradual introduction of forecasted technological advancements.

The proposed methodology will enable improvements to traffic congestion along corridors, improve safety for all road users, allow signal controls to maximise intersections throughput, improve multi-modal travel time and predictability, enable government lead initiatives aimed at lowering private vehicle usage, and increasing the patronage per vehicle and active transport.

In conjunction, it is vital that improvements are also made to public transportation and MaaS facilities that will improve the convenience and entice this behavioural change. As the current demand for productivity, comfort, and handiness of privately-owned vehicles will hinder the progress toward harnessing the full potential of the forecast technological advancements.

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