Modeling Connected Vehicles & Automated Vehicles
The prospect of connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles in the traffic stream highlights the vital role that simulation plays in traffic planning, design, and engineering. Traffic flow in an isolated facility, such as a freeway corridor or a signalized urban street, exhibits well-understood and thoroughly-documented phenomena. To evaluate the impacts of a proposed change – introduction of a roadway improvement, traffic management strategy, or vehicle technology – is relatively straightforward in such a context. However, the impacts that the same proposed change may have on traffic operations in interconnected networks of facilities operating as a system can be exceedingly complex and hence difficult, if not impossible, to approach without the aid of simulation.
Connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles have the potential to alter the way traffic flows by changing the proximity and speed at which vehicles travel relative to one another. In mitigating, or potentially eliminating, the error and heterogeneity inherent in human perception, judgment, and reaction, connected and automated vehicles may be able to respond automatically to, or at a minimum alert drivers of, the threatening maneuvers of other vehicles. This communication and automation offers two important advantages: (1) the maintenance of efficient traffic flow at high speeds while (2) simultaneously minimizing incidents and increasing safety.
In changing the way traffic flows, connected vehicles and automated vehicles also have the potential to change the way drivers use the transportation system. With the increased efficiency, safety, and reliability of the transportation system, drivers’ routes, departure times, and trip-making choices may undergo fundamental shifts.
TransModeler traffic simulation software offers a uniquely complete and powerful suite of features for simulating autonomous and connected vehicles that enable modelers to analyze the multifaceted nature and complexity that connected and automated vehicles pose:
- A one-of-a-kind geographic information system (GIS) platform that can exploit the temporal and geospatial relationships between vehicles and infrastructure for simulating communication between vehicles (V2V), between vehicles and infrastructure (V2I), and between vehicles and anything equipped to receive the communication (V2X).
- Advanced threaded computing implementation for efficient microsimulation of wide areas and millions of trips.
- Integration with TransCAD and other planning packages to enable the interaction between travel demand and traffic flow phenomena impacted by connected and automated vehicles.
- Simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) for studying the route choice impacts at the regional scale of connected and automated vehicles.
- The most advanced driver behavior algorithms for simulating what really happens in congested merging and weaving areas on freeways and in oversaturated conditions on urban streets.
- Tools for incidents and work zones that allow for the exploration of traffic operations where safety considerations are paramount.
- A flexible and extensible application programming interface (API) that makes it possible to simulate any current vehicle technology or even those yet to be conceived or operationalized.
Central among these features is the API, which gives modelers the freedom to build their own extensions onto the TransModeler framework. Those extensions can assert their own logic and control over driver behaviors and vehicle movements and can incorporate the occurrence of hardware failures, false positives, and other stochastic influences and sources of uncertainty that are characteristic of the technology being simulated. With TransModeler, the opportunities for growing a better understanding of the effects of emerging connected and automated vehicles on our transportation infrastructure are limitless.