When self-driving robotic cars begin to share the road with regular cars, could we control the robotic cars to smooth out traffic jams? I did a numerical and theoretical study of vehicle traffic dynamics and control policies that smooth traffic even when controlling only a fraction of the vehicles.
Abstract We propose and study two control policies for the optimal velocity traﬃc model  in which only an active subset of cars are actuated. We obtain suﬃcient conditions for the stability of the actuated dynamics and prove that in certain cases an unstable unactuated system can be stabilized. Through numerical experiments, we show that both controllers have a signiﬁcant stabilizing eﬀect. In particular, we study the number of active cars necessary to stabilize the dynamics, as well as the asymptotic convergence rate of each controller. We show that one controller is better when the unactuated dynamics are close to stable and the other is better when the unactuated dynamics are far from stable.