Haptic Shared Control for Dissipating Phantom Traffic Jams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Traffic jams occurring on highways cause increased travel time as well as increased fuel consumption and collisions. So-called phantom traffic jams are traffic jams that do not have a clear cause, such as a merging on-ramp or an accident. Phantom traffic jams make up 50% of all traffic jams and result from instabilities in the traffic flow that are caused by human driving behavior. Automating the longitudinal vehicle motion of only 5% of all cars in the flow can dissipate phantom traffic jams. However, driving automation introduces safety issues when human drivers need to take over the control from the automation. We investigated whether phantom traffic jams can be dissolved using haptic shared control. This keeps humans in the loop and thus bypasses the problem of humans’ limited capacity to take over control, while benefiting from most advantages of automation. In an experiment with 24 participants in a driving simulator, we tested the effect of haptic shared control on the dynamics of traffic flow and compared it with manual control and full automation. We also investigated the effect of two control types on participants’ behavior during simulated silent automation failures. Results show that haptic shared control can help dissipating phantom traffic jams better than fully manual control but worse than full automation. We also found that haptic shared control reduces the occurrence of unsafe situations caused by silent automation failures compared to full automation. Our results suggest that haptic shared control can dissipate phantom traffic jams while preventing safety risks associated with full automation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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.


  • Active pedals
  • Automation
  • Automobiles
  • Behavioral sciences
  • driving simulator
  • Haptic interfaces
  • haptic shared control
  • longitudinal vehicle motion
  • phantom traffic jams
  • Phantoms
  • Roads
  • silent automation failure
  • Vehicles


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