Date of Award:

2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Kevin P. Heaslip

Abstract

Automated Electric Transportation (AET) is a concept of an emerging cooperative transportation system that combines recent advances in vehicle automation and electric power transfer. It is a network of vehicles that control themselves as they traverse from an origin to a destination while being electrically powered in motion – all without the use of connected wires.

AET's realization may provide unparalleled returns in the form of dramatic reductions in traffic-related air pollution, our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, traffic congestion, and roadway inefficiency. More importantly, it may also significantly improve transportation safety by dramatically reducing the number of transportation-related deaths and injuries each year as it directly addresses major current issues such as human error and adverse environmental conditions related to vehicle emissions. In this thesis, a logical strategy in transitioning from today’s current transportation system to a future automated and electric transportation system is identified.

However, the chief purpose of this research is to evaluate the operational parameters where AET will be feasible from a transportation operations perspective. This evaluation was accomplished by performing lane capacity analyses for the mainline, as well as focusing on the merging logic employed at freeway interchange locations. In the past, merging operations have been known to degrade traffic flow due to the interruptions that merging vehicles introduce to the system. However, by analyzing gaps in the mainline traffic flow and coordinating vehicle movements through the use of the logic described in this thesis, mainline traffic operations can remain uninterrupted while still allowing acceptable volumes of merging vehicles to enter the freeway. A "release-to-gap" merging algorithm was developed and utilized in order to maximize the automated flow of traffic at or directly downstream of a freeway merge point by maximizing ramp flows without causing delay to mainline vehicles. Through these tasks, it is the hope of this research to aid in identifying the requirements and impending impacts of the implementation of this potentially life-altering technology.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on December 21, 2012.

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