Dissipation of Traffic Waves using Self-Driving Cars
In July 2016, the lab took part in a groundbreaking experiment in which we showed that self-driving cars can benefit the drivers of cars around them, by controlling their velocity to dissipate traffic waves. In addition to improving traffic flow, we show up to 40% improvement in fuel economy, and 90%+ reduction in braking events during controlled flow, compared to the span of time when the traffic waves were pronounced. The drivers in our experiment received no special training other than instructions to keep up with the car in front of them. Ours is the first result in the world to show this on real vehicles, with real human drivers, not through simulation. This is the beginning of a new era of control "within the flow" for complex emergent phenomena like those frequently seen in traffic. If you want to read more about it, a link to a preprint of our technical paper on arXiv is located here. The work is funded by NSF Cyber-Physical Systems, and a joint effort with Illinois, Temple, and Rutgers.
Press release from Illinois: http://cee.illinois.edu/news/experiments-show-few-self-driving-cars-can-dramatically-improve-traffic-flow