Adding autonomous vehicles to ride-hailing fleets could benefit platforms and drivers

CSE researchers study ride hailing platforms like Uber and Lyft

March 1, 2022

In recent work, researchers from the University of Minnesota Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering examined one potentially important application of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology: ride hailing.

Distinguished McKnight University Professor Saif Benjaafar and his research team—doctoral student Xiaotang Yang and postdoctoral fellow Zicheng Wang—explored how deploying a mixed fleet of both AVs and conventional vehicles (CVs) could affect a platform’s operational decisions. For example, how many AVs would it operate and how many customers would it serve? Which vehicles would it assign to which customers? How would it reposition vehicles to reduce idling time?

The team also studied how these operational decisions would affect drivers and riders. Among their findings: adding AVs could not only maximize profits for platforms and drivers, but made ride-hailing service an option for more people in more communities.

“In ride-hailing systems without AVs, repositioning drivers from a low-demand location to a high-demand one is costly for the platform,” Yang said. “With a mixed fleet, the platform would deploy AVs for these customer requests instead of rejecting them.”

This research is part of the National Science Foundation grant “SCC: Leveraging Autonomous Shared Vehicles for Greater Community Health, Equity, Livability, and Prosperity (HELP),” which is funding other projects by College of Science and Engineering faculty.

Read the full story on the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies website

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