Effects of Controller Heterogeneity on Autonomous Vehicle Traffic
Interactions between road users are both highly non-linear and profoundly complex, and there is no reason to expect that interactions between autonomous vehicles will be any different. Given the recent rapid development of autonomous vehicle technologies, we need to understand how these interactions are likely to present themselves, and what their implications might be. This paper looks into the impact of autonomous vehicles with differing controllers, focusing specifically on the effects of changing the mean and heterogeneity of controller parameters on three key performance metrics: throughput, passenger safety and comfort. Towards this end, we develop a method for systematically sampling vehicle controllers as a function of parameter heterogeneity. In addition to evaluating the impact of heterogeneity on performance, we quantify the relative impacts of controller input parameters on the output performance metrics by means of sensitivity analyses. The MovSim traffic simulator was used to simulate a realistic traffic system, whilst recording maximum throughput, as well as lane change frequencies and mean absolute accelerations as proxies for safety and comfort. Our results reveal that traffic performance is primarily affected by the heterogeneity of vehicle target velocities, as well as by the mean values of a very small subset of the parameters, of which the target velocity was by far the most significant.