A Stackelberg Game Theoretic Model of Lane-Merging
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Merging in the form of a mandatory lane-change is an important issue in transportation research. Even when safely completed, merging may disturb the mainline traffic and reduce the efficiency or capacity of the roadway. In this paper, we consider a Stackelberg game-theoretic driver behavior model where the so-called utilities or payoffs reflect the merging vehicle's aggressiveness as it pertains the decision to merge as the situation stands or to accelerate, decelerate prior to the actual lane-change maneuver. The interaction of the merging vehicle with the mainline traffic is also considered whereby the combination of aggressiveness of the respective vehicles leads to both longitudinal and lateral disturbances to the mainline flow as well as subsequent reduction in the roadway throughput. The present study shows in semi-quantitative form that this impact depends on the level of aggressiveness of the merging and mainline vehicles, leading to the potential use of this model in traffic flow analysis and autonomous driving.
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