SAE International has awarded CE-CERT researchers the Vincent Bendix Automotive Electronic Engineering Award.

SAE International has awarded CE-CERT researchers Dr. Ziran Wang, Dr. Kanok Boriboonsomsin, and Dr. Matthew Barth the Vincent Bendix Automotive Electronic Engineering Award.  Established in 1976, this award annually recognizes the authors of the best paper relating to automotive electronics engineering. Wang, the lead author of the paper “Cooperative Ramp Merging System: Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation Using Game Engine” which was published in the 2019 SAE International Journal of Connected and Automated Vehicles, received his PhD in 2019 in Mechanical Engineering at University of California, Riverside – Center for Environmental Technology and Research and is now a Research Scientist at Infotech Labs, Toyota Motor North America R&D.

More about the Cooperative Ramp Merging System

For those living in Southern California, the fast pace of transportation development is quite apparent. Currently, there are more than a billion motor vehicles worldwide, and this is estimated to double in the coming decades. This growth has led to an increase in related social, environmental, and economic issues.

Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology is regarded as one of the transformative solutions for addressing these issues. CAVs are a hybrid of connected vehicles (CVs) and automated vehicles (AVs) – leveraging connectivity and automation. CAVs can operate in isolation from other vehicles using onboard sensors, and also can communicate with nearby vehicles and infrastructure to make decisions in a cooperative manner. This technology becomes especially significant when addressing traffic-related issues and improving efficiency and safety, specifically for highway on-ramp merging.

Agent-based modeling and simulation (ABMS) is an attractive approach to modeling transportation systems comprised of CAVs. ABMS focuses on microscale models that simulate certain simulations agents such as decision-making, interaction, goals, autonomy and flexibility. Conversely, game engines are able to model complex virtual reality environments and also allow uses to become fully immersed in the simulation game. Unity3D is a game engine that has been adopted by Wang in his research to conduct ABMS of CAVs in a case study of cooperative on-ramp merging.

Using Unity3D, Wang has developed a longitudinal communication for CAVs, in which vehicles can communicate with each other within a cooperative on-ramp merging system. The illustrative system architecture is shown in figure 1. When merging vehicles from the upstream of on-ramp and main line traffic enter the V2I communication range of the infrastructure, they send the infrastructure their own information measured by onboard sensors. That information includes, but is not limited to current acceleration, speed, and position of the vehicle. Then, the computer connected to the infrastructure processes the information gathered from on-coming vehicles within a certain time interval, and it assigns a series of sequenced identification numbers to different vehicles. Vehicles retrieve those sequenced i.d. numbers at the next time step and area, which are strategically placed within the same longitudinal speed and position as the vehicles’ predecessor.

Fig. 1

In conclusion, this cooperative merging system offers significant improvement in travel time, energy consumption, and pollutant emissions. Dr. Wang’s article shows that the merging system can result in 7% travel time reduction, 8% energy savings, and up to 58% pollutant emission reduction when compared to human driving.

Both Wang and other CE-CERT researchers are continuing to conduct research on this topic.