Currently, one of the main challenges that large metropolitan areas have to face is traffic congestion, which has become an important problem faced by city authorities. To address this problem, it becomes necessary to implement an efficient solution to control traffic that generates benefits for citizens, such as reducing vehicle journey times and, consequently, use of fuel, noise and environmental pollution. In fact, by properly analyzing traffic demand, it becomes possible to predict future traffic conditions, and to use that information for the optimization of the routes taken by vehicles. Such an approach becomes especially effective if applied in the context of autonomous vehicles, which have a more predictable behavior, thus enabling city management entities to mitigate the effects of traffic congestion and pollution by improving the traffic flow in a city in a fully centralized manner. Validating this approach typically requires the use of simulations, which should be as realistic as possible. However, achieving high degrees of realism can be complex when the actual traffic patterns, defined through an Origin/Destination (O-D) matrix for the vehicles in a city, are unknown, as occurs most of the times. Thus, the first contribution of this thesis is to develop an iterative heuristic for improving traffic congestion modeling; starting from real induction loop measurements made available by the City Hall of Valencia, Spain, we were able to generate an O-D matrix for traffic simulation that resembles the real traffic distribution. If it were possible to characterize the state of traffic by predicting future traffic conditions for optimizing the route of automated vehicles, and if these measures could be taken to preventively mitigate the effects of congestion with its related problems, the overall traffic flow could be improved. Thereby, the second contribution of this thesis was to develop a Traffic Prediction Equation to characterize the different streets of a city in terms of travel time with respect to the vehicle load, and applying logistic regression to those data to predict future traffic conditions. The third and last contribution of this thesis towards our envisioned traffic management paradigm was a route server capable of handling all the traffic in a city, and balancing traffic flows by accounting for present and future traffic congestion conditions. Thus, we perform a simulation study using real data of traffic congestion in the city of Valencia, Spain, to demonstrate how the traffic flow in a typical day can be improved using our proposed solution. Experimental results show that our proposed solution, combined with frequent updating of traffic conditions on the route server, is able to achieve substantial improvements in terms of average travel speeds and travel times, both indicators of lower degrees of congestion and improved traffic fluidity.
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