Reinforcement Learning for Dynamic Pricing of Shared-Use Autonomous Mobility Systems Considering Heterogeneous Users: Model Development and Scenario Testing

Hoseb Abkarian, Hani Mahmassani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A key aspect of the success of shared-use autonomous mobility systems will be the ability to price rides in real time. As these services become more prevalent, it becomes of high importance to detect shifts in behavior to quickly optimize the system and ensure system efficiency and economic viability. Therefore, (1) pricing algorithms should be able to price rides according to complex underlying demand functions with heterogeneous customers and (2) the algorithm should be able detect nonstationary behavior (e.g., changing customers’ willingness to pay) from its previously learnt decisions and alter its pricing mechanism accordingly. We formulate a dynamic pricing and learning problem as a Markov decision process and subsequently solve it through a reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm, with heterogeneous customers accepting the trip characteristics (price, expected wait time) probabilistically. Insights from a fixed fleet operation of an autonomous private ridesourcing system in Chicago are presented. Given our formulation of the demand model, the algorithm learns in 25 days, increasing revenue by 90% and decreasing customer wait times by 90% compared to day 5. After gathering insights from the RL algorithm and applying optimal static pricing (i.e., a constant specific surge multiplier), we find that RL can achieve near 90% optimality in revenue. The RL algorithm, nevertheless, proves to be robust. Two scenarios are tested where a sudden shock occurs or customers slowly change their willingness to pay, illustrating that RL can quickly adapt its parameters to the situation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTransportation Research Record
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • algorithms
  • mathematical modeling
  • optimization
  • planning and analysis
  • transportation supply

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

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