Dynamic autonomous vehicle fleet operations: Optimization-based strategies to assign AVs to immediate traveler demand requests

Motivated by the growth of ridesourcing services and the expected advent of fully-autonomous vehicles (AVs), this paper defines, models, and compares assignment strategies for a shared-use AV mobility service (SAMS). Specifically, the paper presents the on-demand SAMS with no shared rides, defined as a fleet of AVs, controlled by a central operator, that provides direct origin-to-destination service to travelers who request rides via a mobile application and expect to be picked up within a few minutes. The underlying operational problem associated with the on-demand SAMS with no shared rides is a sequential (i.e. dynamic or time-dependent) stochastic control problem. The AV fleet operator must assign AVs to open traveler requests in real-time as traveler requests enter the system dynamically and stochastically. As there is likely no optimal policy for this sequential stochastic control problem, this paper presents and compares six AV-traveler assignment strategies (i.e. control policies). An agent-based simulation tool is employed to model the dynamic system of AVs, travelers, and the intelligent SAMS fleet operator, as well as, to compare assignment strategies across various scenarios. The results show that optimization-based AV-traveler assignment strategies, strategies that allow en-route pickup AVs to be diverted to new traveler requests, and strategies that incorporate en-route drop-off AVs in the assignment problem, reduce fleet miles and decrease traveler wait times. The more-sophisticated AV-traveler assignment strategies significantly improve operational efficiency when fleet utilization is high (e.g. during the morning or evening peak); conversely, when fleet utilization is low, simply assigning traveler requests sequentially to the nearest idle AV is comparable to more-advanced strategies. Simulation results also indicate that the spatial distribution of traveler requests significantly impacts the empty fleet miles generated by the on-demand SAMS.


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  • Accession Number: 01674001
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 13 2018 4:25PM