Automated & Connected

Research—the parking problem with autonomous vehicles

Research published by the Environmental Studies Department, University of California, Santa Cruz turns the focus from driving autonomous vehicles to parking them—or not. Could AVs double traffic congestion for urban areas by just cruising around?

According to a paper by associate professor Adam Millard-Ball entitled, The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem: “Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have no need to park close to their destination, or even to park at all. Instead, AVs can seek out free on-street parking, return home, or cruise (circlearound).”

The paper also states that: “Because cruising is less costly at lower speeds, a game theoretic framework shows that AVs also have the incentive to implicitly coordinate with each other in order to generate congestion.”

In short, AVs can just drive around instead of paying for parking—and that could considerably add to traffic congestion for urban areas.

In fact, using a micro-simulation model from downtown San Francisco, the study suggests that AVs could more than double vehicle traffic for urban cores.

The solution Millard-Ball says is that “self-driving cars will need to pay for using city streets, otherwise, chaos will ensue.”

He sees two basic ways to pay: “Because the ability of AVs to cruise blurs the boundary between parking and travel, congestion pricing programs should include two complementary prices—a time-based charge for occupying the public right-of-way, whether parked or in motion, and a distance-or energy-based charge that internalizes other externalities from driving.”

Access an online version of the paper by clicking the link below.

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Mark Miller is a contributing writer to SAE International. He has worked as a technology writer and editor for IBM and other advanced information technology firms. His areas of concentration include artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, analytics and Internet of Things technologies.

Original Article