Assess the impacts of different autonomous trucks’ lateral control modes on asphalt pavement performance

With ongoing massive investment in the field of autonomous vehicles, fully autonomous self-driving vehicles are set to become a reality soon. Despite the benefits in traffic safety and economy, the potential effects of autonomous vehicles, especially autonomous trucks, on transportation infrastructure remain to be determined. In this study, a finite element model was developed based on a typical flexible pavement structure. The effects of autonomous trucks’ lateral distribution within the lane with respect to rutting depth and fatigue damage were estimated by finite element analysis under certain environmental condition. Characteristics of the pavement structure and environmental condition have been collected and presented in this paper. Four possible lateral control modes on managing autonomous trucks’ lateral distribution were proposed, listed as zero-wander mode, uniform mode, double peak Gaussian mode, two-section uniform mode. Considering the difference between autonomous trucks and human-driven trucks, the ratio of autonomous trucks was also evaluated. Based on the simulation results, it has been confirmed that, if controlled appropriately, autonomous trucks could be highly beneficial to asphalt pavements for wider using of pavement. Conversely, if without appropriate lateral control, the effect of autonomous trucks on the typical flexible pavement life could be negative, owing to repeated single point load caused by lane centering and keeping. For example, the uniform mode, double peak Gaussian mode and two-section uniform mode all throw positive effect on the pavement. On the contrary, under the zero wander mode, the time when the rutting depth of the proposed pavement reaches 15 mm (defined as maintenance year) may advance by 1.56 years and fatigue damage at the bottom of asphalt layer increases by 146%. Compared with the normal situation nowadays, the two-section uniform distribution of autonomous trucks, the best performing control mode, delays the maintenance year by 2.3 years. From the aspect of fatigue, a much uniform distribution curve of fatigue within the lane can also be found under this mode. When all trucks’ lateral positions were in control, the two-section uniform mode could reduce the fatigue damage by up to 35% under repeated standard axle load on the flexible pavement. Finally, a framework of dealing with the lateral control was proposed as a reference for different conditions, such as asphalt pavement structures and materials.


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  • Accession Number: 01705213
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 15 2019 3:05PM