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Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles on Traffic Flow Characteristics under Mixed Traffic Environment: Future Perspectives

Mohammed Al-Turki (), Nedal T. Ratrout (), Syed Masiur Rahman () and Imran Reza ()
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Mohammed Al-Turki: Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
Nedal T. Ratrout: Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
Syed Masiur Rahman: Research Institute, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
Imran Reza: Department of Civil & Architectural Engineering, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 19, 1-22

Abstract: Vehicle automation and communication technologies are considered promising approaches to improve operational driving behavior. The expected gradual implementation of autonomous vehicles (AVs) shortly will cause unique impacts on the traffic flow characteristics. This paper focuses on reviewing the expected impacts under a mixed traffic environment of AVs and regular vehicles (RVs) considering different AV characteristics. The paper includes a policy implication discussion for possible actual future practice and research interests. The AV implementation has positive impacts on the traffic flow, such as improved traffic capacity and stability. However, the impact depends on the factors including penetration rate of the AVs, characteristics, and operational settings of the AVs, traffic volume level, and human driving behavior. The critical penetration rate, which has a high potential to improve traffic characteristics, was higher than 40%. AV’s intelligent control of operational driving is a function of its operational settings, mainly car-following modeling. Different adjustments of these settings may improve some traffic flow parameters and may deteriorate others. The position and distribution of AVs and the type of their leading or following vehicles may play a role in maximizing their impacts.

Keywords: autonomous vehicle (AV); road capacity; traffic stability; mixed traffic environment; regular vehicle (RV); policy implication (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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