Traffic flow stability induced by constant time headway policy for adaptive cruise control vehicles

Perry Y. Li, Ankur Shrivastava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


This paper is concerned with the traffic flow stability/instability induced by a particular adaptive cruise control (ACC) policy, known as the "constant time headway (CTH) policy". The control policy is analyzed for a circular highway using three different traffic models, namely a microscopic model, a spatially discrete model, and a spatially continuous model. It is shown that these three different modeling paradigms can result in different traffic stability properties unless the control policy and traffic dynamics are consistently abstracted for the different paradigms. The traffic dynamics will, however, be qualitatively consistent across the three modeling paradigms if a consistent biasing strategy is used to adapt the CTH policy to the various modeling frameworks. The biasing strategy determines whether the feedback quantity for use in the control, is taken colocatedly, downstream or upstream to the vehicle/section/highway location. For ACC vehicles equipped with forward looking sensors, the downstream biasing strategy should be used. In this case, the CTH policy induces exponentially stable traffic flow on a circular highway in all three modeling frameworks. It is also shown that traffic flow stability will be preserved for an open stretch highway if the entry and exit conditions are made to observe the downstream biasing strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-301
Number of pages27
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research supported by Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) and CAMDAC at the University of Minnesota.


  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Biasing strategy
  • Headway
  • Macroscopic model
  • Stability
  • Traffic flow


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