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Vol: 58(72) No: 2 / June 2013        

Emulation of Highway Situations Using a Leader-Follower System
Amélie Chevalier
Department of Electrical Energy, Systems and Automation, Ghent University, Technologiepark 913, 9052 Gent, Belgium, phone: (+32) 9 264 55 76, e-mail: Amelie.Chevalier@UGent.be
Cosmin Copot
Department of Electrical Energy, Systems and Automation, Ghent University, Technologiepark 913, 9052 Gent, Belgium, phone: (+32) 9 264 55 76, e-mail: Cosmin.Copot@UGent.be
Clara M. Ionescu
Department of Electrical Energy, Systems and Automation, Ghent University, Technologiepark 913, 9052 Gent, Belgium, e-mail: ClaraMihaela.Ionescu@UGent.be
Robin De Keyser
Department of Electrical Energy, Systems and Automation, Ghent University, Technologiepark 913, 9052 Gent, Belgium, e-mail: Robain.DeKeyser@UGent.be

Keywords: formation control, mobile robot, stop-and-go waves, highway bottleneck, education, remote lab

Everyday car accidents and traffic jams occur on our highways. Stop-and-go waves and bottleneck situations often occur as a result of the behavior of the driver. This work focuses on these two highway situations that can cause a derailment of our traffic system. A leader-follower system of mobile robots is used to emulate both the bottleneck situation and the stop-and go waves. The mobile robot system used in this experiment is part of a remote lab used to educate young control engineers. To emulate a bottleneck switching between an in-line and a triangle formation is used. In order to create stop-and-go waves, the speed of the leader in an in-line formation is changed forcing the followers to have a stop-and-go movement in order to keep the desired formation. Distance and angle measurements from image processing algorithms and speed measurements from optical encoders are used in the control strategy. A cascade PI-P controller is used to stabilize the system. The challenge of the current implementation stands in the fact that there is no communication between the robots. The results for the bottleneck situation show clearly the switching between two lines and one line in the measurements of the lateral offsets. The stop-and-go waves are clearly present in the distance and speed measurements of the followers. We conclude that both situations can be satisfactory emulated by the mobile robot system.

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