Wilson, R. Eddie
Mechanisms for spatio-temporal pattern formation in highway traffic models
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A: Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, 366, (1872), . (doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0018).
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A key qualitative requirement for highway traffic models is the ability to replicate a type of traffic jam popularly referred to as a phantom jam, shock wave or stop-and-go wave. Despite over 50 years of modelling, the precise mechanisms for the generation and propagation of stop-and-go waves and the associated spatio-temporal patterns are in dispute. However, the increasing availability of empirical datasets, such as those collected from motorway incident detection and automatic signalling system (MIDAS) inductance loops in the UK or the next-generation simulation trajectory data (NGSIM) project in the USA, means that we can expect to resolve these questions definitively in the next few years. This paper will survey the essence of the competing explanations of highway traffic pattern formation and introduce and analyse a new mechanism, based on dynamical systems theory and bistability, which can help resolve the conflict.
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