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Milton Keynes: CAVs are entering the car-friendly city

Posted: 04.05.2020
4 May 2020

In comparison to the rest of the partner cities, Milton Keynes is a relatively young town, founded in the 1960s. Nowadays the British city is home to more than 200,000 inhabitants, a number which likely increases in the next years. City planners in the second half of the last century put the personal car in the center of their plans. Thus, Milton Keynes with its large roundabouts, drop-off zones and parking facilities is an ideal modelling scenario to test the influences of AVs on the overall traffic flows.  

One of the use cases focuses on the performance of AVs in roundabouts. Quick lane changing, as well as entering and exiting, while anticipating many other cars, is a serious challenge for AVs. The focus of these so-called “priority junctions”, was to assess traffic performance at the major arterial road intersections in suburban Milton Keynes. Two scenarios were tested, including the introduction of V2V communication between vehicles when merging at intersections and the introduction of an additional (third) lane on the approach to each intersection. Results clearly showed that even low-level CAVs caused a deterioration in traffic flows, due to their cautious behaviour. Once high-level CAVs are introduced, traffic flows improve by 30% in comparison to model tests with conventional vehicles.  

Since many cities around Europe are aiming to establish car-free city centers, tests for drop-off zones and multi-story car parks were also simulated in Milton Keynes. Several scenarios were sketched, such as additional lanes on the surrounding roads of car parks to facilitate traffic flows. For the drop-off areas, the measure of using advanced CAVs are promising, as a 40% reduction in journey delay times is achieved by the time the prevalent stage has been reached. On the other hand, the CAVs work less well in the environment of multi-story car parks. As a result, the introductory stage creates a 50% increase in journey delay times whilst the prevalent stage yields only a 20% reduction in journey delay times. Overall, all scenarios show that the benefits of improved traffic flow apply to all vehicles on the road at any time, (CAV’s and non-CAV’s alike. 

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Further information for Milton Keynes and the three other cities is available in our brochure.