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Modeling Traffic Flow in Application to Traffic Instabilities

Statement-Question-Goal
Modeling provides a powerful tool to predict problems in traffic flow. Also, to assist engineering efforts in the design of devices that will increase traffic through-output. What can modeling of traffic flow provide, in the way of, explicit reasoning about how a system of electro-optical devices should be set up to control traffic flow? Specifically we want to know what traffic variables are observable by the driver and how we can electronically enhance driving conditions to create overall traffic stability?

What is Traffic?
Working Definition of Traffic: The passage of vehicles (cars) along routes of transportation
Fundamental observable properties of traffic:
Velocity,
Given at unique points (x,t)

Traffic Flux,

Traffic Density,

What is a Traffic Instability?

How do we predict future traffic situations?


How do we predict when an instability in traffic flow will occur?

Prediction of Traffic Conditions


Consider a region of roadway and let cars be entering and leaving the region continuously.
a b

Cars entering and leaving the region of roadway between (a,b).

If we consider cars to be a dynamic coupled system (continuous) then we can derive an equation for the Conservation of the number of cars.

Conservation of Cars

The number of cars enter and leaving the system is constant. The change of the car density, , is proportionate to the change in the flux, q in the given roadway. Conservation is not useful yet for prediction. Can we modify?

YES!

HOW?!

There is a useful relationship between our traffic variables.

Experimentally verified w/assumptions


Convex downward That is, we assume Maximum flow, denoted only maximum*

decreases as increases
occurs at local maximum and

What is the graph of the relationship?.


*Requires some justification but can be taken as given at this point.

Example
An example of the relationship :

Flow,

Density,
* Least Squares Fit

u=u(), lets us consider u as a function of the density, only. Conservation of Cars

Where u() is an experimentally determined and road conditions are relatively homogenous. Traffic density will not change a large amount*
*For reference see Haberman (1998). Traffic Flow" Mathematical Models,259-394.

Summary for the PDE Model


The conservation of cars equation gives us the ability to find a solution to the following: for all time, t when we have initial and u(x,t) for all t. What have we assumed so far?
1. 2. Assuming that average quantities for density, and velocity, u exist. Assuming both density and flow, q are continuous then we have a differential relation. Assuming the velocity is a function ONLY of the density gives us a PDE from the differential relation Cars can be treated as a continuous flux. Each cars relative motion is determined by other cars in a neighborhood. Thus is an interconnected dynamical system. Single lane traffic and no passing, etc

3.
4.

5.

Simple Instabilities

Conservation equation where the flux changes with the density Nonlinear PDE Instabilities propagate at a speed depending on the density Accidents more likely since traffic density is less homogenous

Example
Initial Data
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(x,0)=f(x)-axis

Characteristics
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X-axis

Conditions imply a traffic accident Characteristics of the PDE intersect causing multivalued solution.

Graph of Characteristics
Characteristics are lines along which the velocity are constant;

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One more model


So far we have been using data that is available to an independent observer traffic flow A driver usually depends on visual information from the car directly ahead. What we can hope to affect with the introduction of electro-optical devices? For example, Potentially can increase the sensitivity with which cars follow one another.

Car Following Model


Consider the nth car on a highway, xn(t) with no passing The motion of the nth car depends only on the car directly in front. The acceleration of the nth car is proportional to the relative velocity of the car (n-1)th car ahead.

*With being the sensitivity of the interaction between the two cars. We wish to more accurately describe this sensitivity at the cost of linearity. The closer a driver is to the (n-1) car the stronger the response will be. Therefore, we can assume that given this information a driver is more likely to have a stronger or even quicker reaction to the relative velocity of the other car. Mathematically this means:

If all cars are equidistant apart this is solvable.


Can we get close a situation in which sensitivity is increased and we approach a steady state solution?

Integrating gives a relationship between the velocity of the nth car and the relative positions as: 0

Steady State
T is the reaction time of the driver. Thus our solution is:

, As

Such that u(max)=0 gives integration constant. Also, it can be shown that c is the velocity at the maximum flow.

Since most of the information a driver receives is visual, can this be the situation if we provide visual enhancement?

What other situations will be affected by reducing the reaction time parameter T?
Is the model of a continuum of cars too nave? Are more sophisticated discrete models needed to find what situations will be most usefully influenced by the introduction of electro-optical devices?

Conclusion
Traffic Instability
Real World: traffic problems caused by driver incompetence. Mathematically: Points where solutions, for position become multivalued.

Parameters
To improve traffic flow and reduce instability we need an accurate model. What variables in traffic flow are most relevant to creating maximal flow?

What model?
Continuous (fluid mechanical, conservation) Discrete (car-following models) A hybrid of Continuous and Discrete)?*
*Bourrel, Henn (2003) Mixing Micro and Macro Representations of Traffic Flow: A First Theoretical Step, www.iasi.rm.cnr.it/ewgt/13conference/109_bourrel.pdf