By Yilin (Ellie) Zhang, USC Price MPL, Transportation, 2018
For most people, autonomous vehicles are movie fantasies or something they hear about occasionally in the media - interesting but still far-off from today. However, transportation academics and practitioners are hard at work, right now, to bring this technology to market. Autonomous driving as well as other advanced technologies are much closer to reality than what most people think.
On July 7th, 2017, the UC Irvine (UCI) Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), with co-sponsor Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) University Transportation Center, held a workshop titled “Advanced Traffic Management & Control in the Era of Connected and Autonomous Driving” on the UC Irvine campus. This full-day event featured presentations from sixteen researchers from the US, Japan, and China, and a presentation from the head of Caltrans Traffic Management Center (TMC), District 12 (Orange County, California). Thirty PSR students and alums, representing the UCI Samueli School of Engineering, the UCI School of Social Ecology, the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, along with METRANS Associate Director Victoria Deguzman,participated in this workshop, which was divided into several topical sections. Students found the topics timely and valuable, both to their current studies and future careers. UCI Transportation Systems doctoral student, Navjyoth Sarma, reported that the topics aligns closely with his research and career plans. “I am interested in the potential application of AVs in the transit/micro-transit and the transition of transit agencies into Mobility-as-a-Service providers. I started off with a passion for travel, rail fanning and bus fanning in general which grew into interest for learning about public transit planning and operations, and now would like to specialize in the transit/micro-transit domain.”
The students in attendance also appreciated the global perspectives offered and the inclusion of practitioner perspectives, as well as the chance to make meaningful connections with experts. “The workshop gave me a good insight into a variety of topics related to connected vehicles and infrastructure from the perspective of professionals from the industry as well as researchers from multiple universities,” Sarma added. ”Workshops like this one introduce us to new topics of research as well as giving us the opportunity to interact with others with whom I share similar research interests and learn from their perspectives.” Felipe Augusto de Souza, who plans to complete his PhD in transportation systems engineering at UCI next September, concurred “The workshop was really valuable for me for two reasons. First, there were people from many different universities as well as from public sector. It is a good opportunity to see how different people are approaching the emergence of new technologies. Second, the presentations and later discussions are useful for ideas on current and future research.”
In the first section, focused on the general direction of traffic technology, Professor Takashi Oguchi from University of Tokyo, Japan outlined AV activities in Japan, in particular the Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) planned to promote automated driving in Japan. He was followed by PSR UCI Professor and ITS Director Stephen Ritchie who shared the status of recent developments in Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) research at ITS. Caltrans Senior Transportation Engineer Morteza Fahrtash, who heads the Caltrans District 12 TMC, shared thoughts on CAV from a government perspective. Professor Toshio Yoshii from Ehime University, Japan, rounded out the session with an introduction to his accident risk estimation model of a network traffic simulation.
The next section focused on management and planning issues related CAV technology. Professor Hiroyuki Oneyama from Tokyo Metropolitan University addressed the feasibility and challenges of utilizing his Moving Light Guide System when both CAV and manual driving vehicles mix on the road. Anthony Lopez, a doctoral student in computer engineering at UCI, explored cross-domain security issues for CAV. Another interesting topic, the future possibilities of the paradigm shifts in efficient operation of transportation systems was covered by UCI Professor R. (Jay) Jayakrishnan. Student Sousa found this session most useful for his current research. “I am particular interested on the traffic management in the presence of these vehicles,” he explained. “Either improving the traditional types of control as traffic signal and ramp metering as well as the new possibilities such as route guidance, lane and speed advisory systems.”
The third section emphasized the economics and environmental impact of CAV. Peng Hao, Assistant Research Engineer from UC Riverside, focused on the environmental impact of Eco-Intelligent Transportation Systems promoted by vehicle communication technologies (Vehicle to Vehicle, Vehicle to Infrastructure, and Vehicle to Grid). Assistant Professor Takahiro Tsubota of Ehime University, Japan, followed with his study about the increase in accidents caused by Long-Continuous Driving Vehicles (LCDV). Student Souza appreciated Tsobota’s presentation most among all of the day’s presentations. “For sure the presentations related to my area of research were very interesting for me, but (for most interesting to me) I'll pick a different one. (This) presentation got my attention for talking about "old problems" with "new data" - the effect of long time driving on vehicle accidents. It shows that these new technologies can be useful on many different aspects.” Roger Lloret-Batlle, UCI doctoral student in transportation engineering, proposed new control policies, based on the concept of envy-freeness, which outperform First-Come-First-Served (FCFS) rule based policies in both efficiency and fairness, and concluding the session, University of Tokyo Assistant Professor, Kentaro Wada was optimistic about the potential of “peer to peer” economies in the transportation industry. He introduced a futuristic Transportation Demand Management (TMD) scheme in IT technology, called Tradable Network Permit (TNP) and the potential future of this technology. Student Sarma rated Wada’s presentation as the highlight of the day. “I found the session on peer to peer tradable infrastructure use fascinating. There is a lot of scope for such systems in a future of shared use mobility on demand.”
The theme of last section was control and modeling. At the beginning of this section, UCI visiting scholar from Xiamen University, China, Hui-Yu Jin, introduced an emerging control technology called Linear Active Disturbance Rejection Control (LADRC), which is popular in the Chinese control community and widely applied in real life. Paulina Reina, Assistant Professor from California State University Fullerton, presented her study on Lane Flow Distribution (LFD) of congested traffic on three-lane freeway based on empirical analyses. Yasuhiro Shiomi, Associate Professor from Ritsumeikan University, Masami Yanagihara, and Research Associate from Tokyo Metropolitan University and Wenlong Jin, Associate Professor from UC Irvine also showed their interest in lane-changing on microscopic traffic simulation. They explored the relationship between lane-changing behaviors and traffic flow based on microscopic traffic simulation on Japanese traffic, and used kinematic wave models for capturing macroscopic bottleneck effects of lane-changing.
Karina Hermawan, a UCI doctoral student in transportation science, spoke with us at length after the workshop. “The workshop was extremely valuable because it exposed to us to some of the most cutting edge research and recent developments regarding connected and autonomous vehicles,” she noted, and found inspiration for future study. “It's helpful since the researchers are looking at problems and concerns related to Connected AV's from every angle and it gave me a lot of ideas for future research.” While she enjoyed the entire day, there was one aspect she appreciated most – the international nature of the participants and presentations. “I find comparison of US vs. other countries' (such as Japan) views on the possible consequences of this technology (the most) interesting (part of the workshop). As we move to a more connected system, we might have to investigate what are these differences and what drives them.” When asked what she finds most interesting about CAV and AV technology to be she pointed to “how it will transform transportation, congestion, VMT, car ownership.” Hermawan became interested in transportation as a result of internship she completed with a nonprofit in Uganda which aims to increase mobility and access. “They distribute bicycles, hand powered tricycles for people who are unable to use their feet, and motorcycle ambulances in rural parts of Uganda.”
Students at all levels and across areas of study were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and learn from these leaders in both academic research and governmental agencies. “Attending this conference was a valuable opportunity for students to learn more about both the state of technology and specifically to learn more about new technology on transportation in Japan,” remarked Meiduo Ji, a USC Master of Planning student with a concentration in transportation. We are thankful to UCI ITS and to PSR for making this available and accessible to us and for all of the presenters who inspired us and gave us so much to think about.” Student Sousa agreed. “It is always interesting to have the opportunity to talk to people outside our research group. It is good for exchanging ideas and also to see how people that were grad students in the past are doing and what are the possibilities.”
Photo by Cam Tran
About the Author
Yilin (Ellie) Zhang is a student assistant at PSR and METRANS Transportation Center and is a second-year Master of Planning student at the USC Price School of Public Policy with a transportation concentration. She is interested in transportation as well as Geographic Information Systems and is seeking career opportunities in these fields. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.