A Learning-Based Optimization Approach for Autonomous Ridesharing Platforms with Service-Level Contracts and On-Demand Hiring of Idle Vehicles

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Current mobility services cannot compete on equal terms with self-owned mobility products concerning service quality. Because of supply and demand imbalances, ridesharing users invariably experience delays, price surges, and rejections. Traditional approaches often fail to respond to demand fluctuations adequately because service levels are, to some extent, bounded by fleet size. With the emergence of autonomous vehicles, however, the characteristics of mobility services change and new opportunities to overcome the prevailing limitations arise. In this paper, we consider an autonomous ridesharing problem in which idle vehicles are hired on-demand in order to meet the service-level requirements of a heterogeneous user base. In the face of uncertain demand and idle vehicle supply, we propose a learning-based optimization approach that uses the dual variables of the underlying assignment problem to iteratively approximate the marginal value of vehicles at each time and location under different availability settings. These approximations are used in the objective function of the optimization problem to dispatch, rebalance, and occasionally hire idle third-party vehicles in a high-resolution transportation network of Manhattan, New York City. The results show that the proposed policy outperforms a reactive optimization approach in a variety of vehicle availability scenarios while hiring fewer vehicles. Moreover, we demonstrate that mobility services can offer strict service-level contracts to different user groups featuring both delay and rejection penalties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-703
JournalTransportation Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • approximate dynamic programming
  • autonomous ridesharing platform
  • machine learning
  • on-demand hiring
  • service-level contracts
  • stochastic heterogeneous demand
  • stochastic vehicle supply


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