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Operational research and simulation methods for autonomous ride-sourcing

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Title: Operational research and simulation methods for autonomous ride-sourcing
Authors: Karamanis, Renos
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: Ride-sourcing platforms provide on-demand shared transport services by solving decision problems related to ride-matching and pricing. The anticipated commercialisation of autonomous vehicles could transform these platforms to fleet operators and broaden their decision-making by introducing problems such as fleet sizing and empty vehicle redistribution. These problems have been frequently represented in research using aggregated mathematical programs, and alternative practises such as agent-based models. In this context, this study is set at the intersection between operational research and simulation methods to solve the multitude of autonomous ride-sourcing problems. The study begins by providing a framework for building bespoke agent-based models for ride-sourcing fleets, derived from the principles of agent-based modelling theory, which is used to tackle the non-linear problem of minimum fleet size. The minimum fleet size problem is tackled by investigating the relationship of system parameters based on queuing theory principles and by deriving and validating a novel model for pickup wait times. Simulating the fleet function in different urban areas shows that ride-sourcing fleets operate queues with zero assignment times above the critical fleet size. The results also highlight that pickup wait times have a pivotal role in estimating the minimum fleet size in ride-sourcing operations, with agent-based modelling being a more reliable estimation method. The focus is then shifted to empty vehicle redistribution, where the omission of market structure and underlying customer acumen, compromises the effectiveness of existing models. As a solution, the vehicle redistribution problem is formulated as a non-linear convex minimum cost flow problem that accounts for the relationship of supply and demand of rides by assuming a customer discrete choice model and a market structure. An edge splitting algorithm is then introduced to solve a transformed convex minimum cost flow problem for vehicle redistribution. Results of simulated tests show that the redistribution algorithm can significantly decrease wait times and increase profits with a moderate increase in vehicle mileage. The study is concluded by considering the operational time-horizon decision problems of ride-matching and pricing at periods of peak travel demand. Combinatorial double auctions have been identified as a suitable alternative to surge pricing in research, as they maximise social welfare by relying on stated customer and driver valuations. However, a shortcoming of current models is the exclusion of trip detour effects in pricing estimates. The study formulates a shared-ride assignment and pricing algorithm using combinatorial double auctions to resolve the above problem. The model is reduced to the maximum weighted independent set problem, which is APX-hard. Therefore, a fast local search heuristic is proposed, producing solutions within 10\% of the exact approach for practical implementations.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Jan-2021
Date Awarded: Jun-2021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/91490
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25560/91490
Copyright Statement: Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International Licence
Supervisor: Angeloudis, Panagiotis
Stettler, Marc
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD theses

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