The city of Milton Keynes, located around 80km north of London, is one of the United Kingdom’s fastest growing cities. It is expected that the city will double in size within 30 years. One way to support this growth is to explore what contribution can be made by having more connected and automated transport.
With this in mind, the city has developed two demonstration use cases which whilst designed specifically to address Milton Keynes’ transport challenges, also have potential to inform other cities on how to consider preparing for greater levels of road-vehicle automation.
The city, working in partnership with Cambridge University has developed a city scale microscopic mode, to help demonstrate two use cases.
First Use Case: How will CAVs respond to priority (roundabouts) junctions on major routes to and from the city
The first use case site looks at traffic performance at a set of roundabout junctions on key routes to the city centre. Like many small cities, especially within sub urban areas, the main form of junctions are priority junctions, without signal control. In Milton Keynes these are typically four way roundabouts with traffic giving way to traffic approaching from the right. Currently, drivers need to judge appropriate gaps in traffic to merge and move on. This relies on drivers’ behaviour, which is inconsistent, and driving skills, which vary greatly from one person to another.
The questions the use case seeks to answer are thus the following:
- Can the performance of connected and autonomous vehicles be better than human drivers and deliver greater efficiency at junctions in terms of capacity?
- How aggressive (all knowing) does the CAV need to be to deliver benefits?
- Are there shorter-term reductions in efficiency until technology advances?
- Can highway changes be developed to address early issues?
The second area the Milton Keyes wishes to investigate is to consider what benefits could emerge by developing drop off/pick up areas where CAVs, with high degrees of autonomy could be used as shared vehicles delivering people and freight to the edge of the city. Passengers would then interchange to other vehicles – which in the case of Milton Keynes could be the autonomous Pods currently being deployed in the city centre.
Ultimately, the city wishes to understand what impact this may have on the city centre. By having this facility, could roads, parking within the city be re allocated as shared space? What development opportunities may this enable. And will congestion be reduced and air quality improved?
Second Use Case. How can CAVs be used to support efficient drop off and pick up facilities close to the city centre, potentially reducing or removing traffic from the city centre?
The questions this demonstration will seek to answer are the following:
- How can the facilities for drop off and pick-up be designed to facilitate efficient operation?
- How can demand and supply of vehicle be balanced, and will some valet parking areas be required to store vehicles in off peak?
- How will connectivity between vehicle and infrastructure assist with managing through put?
- How will surrounding highway network be designed to maximise throughput and reduce congestion?
This use case will also consider the same facilities for freight. Again, the potential objective would be to remove light freight deliveries from the city centre, removing the impact deliveries has on the network.
For more information about Milton Keynes and its use cases, see here.