Technology and Engineering Developments

Due to the rapid growth of traffic demands, traffic congestion is becoming considerably worse in many cities. This challenge makes scientists and researchers concerned with not only traffic safety but also traffic efficiencies. Both empirical experiments and analytical studies shows that improper car-following behavior is one of the original factors causing traffic oscillations, which are the source of stop-and-go traffic and the main cause of traffic congestion. More advanced car-following control such as cooperative adaptive cruise control (CACC) is one way to ensure greater traffic efficiency.

Recent developments of connected vehicle technologies such as Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) wireless communication enables a vehicle to “view” traffic movement in a neighborhood or even at further range. This technological advancement significantly encourages the development of CACC, which enables vehicles to automatically and cooperatively determine their movement to sustain platoon stability and mitigate traffic oscillation. CACC is still in the research and development phase, thus it has been implemented mainly in research experiments rather than in commercial vehicles. CACC algorithms should be able to manipulate individual vehicles’ following behaviors so that a desired platoon performance — high traffic mobility, low traffic emission, and low fuel consumption — can be achieved. Our research in The Driverless City project developed a novel car-following control scheme for a platoon of connected and autonomous vehicles on a straight highway.

Public Policy and Legal Issues

The advent of a new technology – especially as in the case of connected and autonomous vehicles  – is enormously challenging to government policymakers and legislators. While this new technology may produce changes in how citizens live their lives, how to respond to such challenges on a policy and legislative basis is far less clear. The City of Chicago has recently indicated an interest in this topic. From an initial meeting with the Driverless City team, the city’s interest has been piqued. It was proposed that a dialogue between senior officials in the city and The Driverless City project would continue. There are a myriad of issues that states and municipalities will have to consider with the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles including roadway construction and maintenance, the effect on municipal revenues (consider auto-related fees and sales tax implications), zoning (parking requirements), licensing, traffic regulation and insurance requirements.