Modeling Human And Machine-In-The-Loop In Car-Following Theory

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Virginia Tech


Most phenomena in engineering fields involve physical variables that can potentially be predicted using simple or complex mathematical models. However, traffic engineers and researchers are faced with a complex challenge since they have to deal with the human element. For instance, it can be stated that the biggest challenge facing researchers in the area of car-following theory relates to accounting for the human-in-the-loop while modeling the longitudinal motion of the vehicles. In fact, a major drawback of existing car-following models is that the human-in-the-loop is not modeled explicitly. This is specifically important since the output from car-following models directly impacts several other factors and measures of effectiveness, such as vehicle emissions and fuel consumption levels.

The main contribution of this research relates to modeling and incorporating, in an explicit and independent manner, the human-in-the-loop component in car-following theory in such a way that it can be either activated or deactivated depending on if a human driver is in control of the vehicle. That would ensure that a car-following model is able to reflect the different control and autonomy levels that a vehicle could be operated under. Besides that, this thesis offers a better understanding of how humans behave and differ from each other. In fact, through the implementation of explicit parameters representing the human-in-the-loop element, the heterogeneity of human behavior, in terms of driving patterns and styles, is captured.

To achieve its contributions, the study starts by modifying the maximum acceleration vehicle-dynamics model by explicitly incorporating parameters that aim to model driver behavior in its expression making it suitable for the representation of typical acceleration behavior. The modified variant of the model is demonstrated to have a flexible shape that allows it to model different types of variations that drivers can generate, and to be superior to other similar models in that it predicts more accurate acceleration levels in all domains. The resulting model is then integrated in the Rakha-Pasumarthy-Adjerid car-following model, which uses a steady-state formulation along with acceleration and collision avoidance constraints to model the longitudinal motion of vehicles. The validation of the model using a naturalistic dataset found that the modified formulation successfully integrated the human behavior component in the model and that the new formulation decreases the modeling error.

Thereafter, this dissertation proposes a new car-following model, which we term the Fadhloun-Rakha model. Even though structurally different, the developed model incorporates the key components of the Rakha-Pasumarthy-Adjerid model in that it uses the same steady state formulation, respects vehicle dynamics, and uses very similar collision-avoidance strategies to ensure safe following distances between vehicles. Besides offering a better fit to empirical data, the Fadhloun-Rakha model is inclusive of the following characteristics: (1) it models the driver throttle and brake pedal input; (2) it captures driver variability; (3) it allows for shorter than steady-state following distances when following faster leading vehicles; (4) it offers a much smoother acceleration profile; and (5) it explicitly captures driver perception and control inaccuracies and errors. Through a quantitative and qualitative evaluation using naturalistic data, the new model is demonstrated to outperform other state-of-the-practice car-following models. In fact, the model is proved to result in a significant decrease in the modeling error, and to generate trajectories that are highly consistent with the observed car-following behavior.

The final part of this study investigates a case in which the driver is excluded and the vehicles are operating in a connected environment. This section aims to showcase a scenario in which the human-in-the-loop is deactivated through the development of a platooning strategy that governs the motion of connected cooperative multi-vehicle platoons.



Human Behavior, Car Following Theory, Platooning, Driving Pattern, Human-In-The-Loop