Using Reinforcement Learning with Partial Vehicle Detection for Intelligent Traffic Signal Control

Abstract: Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) have attracted the attention of researchers and the general public alike as a means to alleviate traffic congestion. Recently, the maturity of wireless technology has enabled a cost-efficient way to achieve ITS by detecting vehicles using Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) communications. Traditional ITS algorithms, in most cases, assume that every vehicle is observed, such as by a camera or a loop detector, but a V2I implementation would detect only those vehicles with wireless communications capability. We examine a family of transportation systems, which we will refer to as `Partially Detected Intelligent Transportation Systems’. An algorithm that can act well under a small detection rate is highly desirable due to gradual penetration rates of the underlying wireless technologies such as Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques for Reinforcement Learning (RL) are suitable tools for finding such an algorithm due to utilizing varied inputs and not requiring explicit analytic understanding or modeling of the underlying system dynamics. In this paper, we report a RL algorithm for partially observable ITS based on DSRC. The performance of this system is studied under different car flows, detection rates, and topologies of the road network. Our system is able to efficiently reduce the average waiting time of vehicles at an intersection, even with a low detection rate.