Traffic Flow on a Ring with a Single Autonomous Vehicle: An Interconnected Stability Perspective

Vittorio Giammarino, Simone Baldi*, Paolo Frasca, Maria Laura Delle Monache

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, field experiments have been performed on ring roadways with human-driven vehicles or with a mix of human-driven and autonomous vehicles. While these experiments demonstrate the potential for controlling traffic flows by a small number of autonomous vehicles, the theoretical framework about such a possibility is to a large extent incomplete. Indeed, most work on mixed traffic focused on classical asymptotical stability notions, neglecting that human drivers are prone to the interconnected instability known in the literature as string instability. This work aims to enhance the existing theories to meet the questions raised by the field experiments. It starts from the observation that the standard notion of string stability on a ring roadway is too demanding for a mixed traffic scenario: therefore, a new interconnected stability definition, named weak ring stability, is proposed. This new interconnected stability notion, in combination with classical stability, is able to explain phenomena observed in field experiments and to highlight possibilities and limitations of traffic control via sparse autonomous vehicle. Furthermore, it allows designing AV controllers with improved string stability specifications, at the price of reducing the sparsity of the autonomous vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4998-5008
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • autonomous vehicle
  • control of traffic flow
  • ring roadway
  • stability of traffic
  • String stability


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