Should Autonomous Vehicles Collaborate in a Complex Urban Environment or Not?

Sumbal Malik, Manzoor Ahmed Khan, Hesham El-Sayed, M. Jalal Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


A specialized version of collaborative driving is convoy driving. It is referred to as the practice of driving more than one vehicle consecutively in the same lane with a small inter-vehicle distance, maintaining the same speed. Extensive research has been conducted on convoys of heavy-duty trucks on the highway; however, limited research has studied convoy driving in an urban environment. The complex dynamics of an urban environment require short-lived collaboration with varying numbers of vehicles rather than collaborating over hours. The motivation of this research is to investigate how convoy driving can be realized to address the challenges of an urban environment and achieve the benefits of autonomous driving such as reduced fuel consumption, travel time, improved safety, and ride comfort. In this work, the best-fitted coalitional game framework is utilized to formulate the convoy driving problem as a coalition formation game in an urban environment. A hypothesis is formulated that traveling in a coalition is more beneficial for a vehicle than traveling alone. In connection with this, a coalitional game and an all-comprehensive utility function are designed, modeled, and implemented to facilitate the formation of autonomous vehicle coalitions for convoy driving. Multiple solution concepts, such as the Shapley allocation, the Nucleolus, and the Core, are implemented to solve and analyze the proposed convoy driving game. Furthermore, several coalition formation strategies such as traveling mode selection, selecting optimal coalitions, and making decisions about coalition merging are developed to analyze the behavior of the vehicles. In addition to this, extensive numerical experiments with different settings are conducted to evaluate and validate the performance of the proposed study. The experimental results proved the hypothesis that traveling in a convoy is significantly more beneficial than traveling alone. We conclude that traveling in a convoy is beneficial for coalition sizes of two to four vehicles with an inter-vehicle spacing of less than 4 m considering the limitations of an urban environment. Traveling in a coalition allows vehicles to save on fuel, minimize travel time and enhance safety and comfort. Furthermore, the findings of this research state that achieving the enormous benefits of traveling in a coalition requires finding the right balance between inter-vehicle distance and coalition size. In the future, we plan to extend this work by studying the evolving dynamics of the coalitions and the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2447-2483
Number of pages37
JournalSmart Cities
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • coalitional game
  • collaborative autonomous driving
  • convoy driving
  • urban environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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