PUBLIC LECTURE: The Frustrating Beauty of Traffic Waves - And How Automated Vehicles Can Prevent Them

Benjamin Seibold
Temple University

A distinguishing feature of vehicular traffic flow is that it may exhibit significant wave patterns. This talk demonstrates that those frustrating (when stuck in traffic) traffic features possess an intriguing structural beauty (when seen from the outside). Moreover, these waves can arise without apparent reason, as phantom traffic jams, from the collective behavior of all drivers on the road; and they result from similar dynamics as detonation waves, cloud patterns, or galaxies. Then it is shown, via computer simulations and experiments, how only a small number of automated vehicles on the roads suffices to prevent traffic waves, thus making traffic for everybody safer, cleaner, and more energy-efficient.

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