Hybrid Traffic Control and Coordination from Pixels

by   Michael Villarreal, et al.

Traffic congestion is a persistent problem in our society. Existing methods for traffic control have proven futile in alleviating current congestion levels leading researchers to explore ideas with robot vehicles given the increased emergence of vehicles with different levels of autonomy on our roads. This gives rise to hybrid traffic control, where robot vehicles regulate human-driven vehicles, through reinforcement learning (RL). However, most existing studies use precise observations that involve global information, such as network throughput, as well as local information, such as vehicle positions and velocities. Obtaining this information requires updating existing road infrastructure with vast sensor networks and communication to potentially unwilling human drivers. We consider image observations as the alternative for hybrid traffic control via RL: 1) images are readily available through satellite imagery, in-car camera systems, and traffic monitoring systems; 2) Images do not require a complete re-imagination of the observation space from network to network; and 3) images only require communication to equipment. In this work, we show that robot vehicles using image observations can achieve similar performance to using precise information on networks, including ring, figure eight, merge, bottleneck, and intersections. We also demonstrate increased performance (up to 26 only using local traffic information as opposed to global traffic information.


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