Evaluating the effects of automated vehicle technology on the capacity of freeway weaving sections

Gabriel Tilg, Kaidi Yang, Monica Menendez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Weaving sections, where a merge and a diverge are in close proximity, are considered as crucial bottlenecks in the highway network. Lane changes happen frequently in such sections, leading to a reduced capacity and the traffic phenomenon known as capacity drop. This paper studies how the emerging automated vehicle technology can improve the operations and increase the capacity of weaving sections. We propose an efficient yet effective multiclass hybrid model that considers two aspects of this technology in scenarios with various penetration rates: (i) the potential to control the desired lane change decisions of automated vehicles, which is represented in a macroscopic manner as the distribution of lane change positions, and (ii) the lower reaction time associated with automated vehicles that can reduce headways and the required gaps for lane changing maneuvers. The proposed model is successfully calibrated and validated with empirical observations from conventional vehicles at a weaving section near the city of Basel, Switzerland. It is able to replicate traffic dynamics in weaving sections including the capacity drop. This model is then applied in a simulation-based optimization framework that searches for the optimal distribution of the desired lane change positions to maximize the capacity of weaving sections. Simulation results show that by optimizing the distribution of the desired lane change positions, the capacity of the studied weaving section can increase up to 15%. The results also indicate that if the reaction time is considered as well, there is an additional combined effect that can further increase the capacity. Overall, the results show the great potential of the automated vehicle technology for increasing the capacity of weaving sections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Volume96
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2018

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Keywords

  • Automated vehicles
  • Lane change positions
  • Multiclass hybrid model
  • Simulation-based optimization
  • Traffic flow
  • Weaving sections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Computer Science Applications

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