Effect of Information Availability on Stability of Traffic Flow: Percolation Theory Approach

Alireza Talebpour, Hani S. Mahmassani*, Samer H. Hamdar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Connectivity and automation are expected to enhance safety and efficiency in transportation systems. Connectivity will provide information to drivers/autonomous vehicles to enhance decision-making reliability at the operational and tactical levels. Consequently, drivers are more likely to execute safe and efficient maneuvers and autonomous vehicles will have a more accurate perception of the traffic condition and an "error-free" execution of the driving maneuvers. At the operational level, ensuring string stability is a key consideration since unstable traffic flow results in shockwave propagation and possibly crashes. While several studies have examined the effects of information availability on string stability in a connected environment, most of the approaches are focused on automated driving (e.g., Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control systems) and do not consider a mixed environment with regular, connected, and autonomous vehicles. To ensure connectivity in such a mixed environment, the correlation between communication range and connected vehicles density should be considered. To capture the effects of this correlation, this study uses the Continuum Percolation theory to determine the effects of the vehicular density and communication range on the connectivity level in telecommunications network and consequently, on the string stability of traffic flow. Based on the Continuum Percolation theory, there is a critical density of connected vehicles above which the entire system is connected. This critical density also depends on the communication range. This study presents an analytical derivation of this critical density. Moreover, this study evaluates the string stability under different communication ranges and market penetration rates of connected and autonomous vehicles. Results revealed that as communication range increases, the system becomes more stable and at high communication ranges, the system performs similar to the system with full connectivity. Moreover, results indicated the existence of an optimal communication range to maximize stability and ensure information delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-100
Number of pages20
JournalTransportation Research Procedia
StatePublished - 2017


  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Connected Vehicles
  • Percolation Theory
  • String Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation


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