Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering


John Dolan


In recent years, autonomous driving has become an increasingly practical technology. With state-of-the-art computer and sensor engineering, autonomous vehicles may be produced and widely used for travel and logistics in the near future. They have great potential to reduce traffic accidents, improve transportation efficiency, and release people from driving tasks while commuting. Researchers have built autonomous vehicles that can drive on public roads and handle normal surrounding traffic and obstacles. However, in situations like lane changing and merging, the autonomous vehicle faces the challenge of performing smooth interaction with human-driven vehicles. To do this, autonomous vehicle intelligence still needs to be improved so that it can better understand and react to other human drivers on the road. In this thesis, we argue for the importance of implementing ”socially cooperative driving”, which is an integral part of everyday human driving, in autonomous vehicles. An intention-integrated Prediction- and Cost function-Based algorithm (iPCB) framework is proposed to enable an autonomous vehicles to perform cooperative social behaviors. We also propose a behavioral planning framework to enable the socially cooperative behaviors with the iPCB algorithm. The new architecture is implemented in an autonomous vehicle and can coordinate the existing Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Centering interface to perform socially cooperative behaviors. The algorithm has been tested in over 500 entrance ramp and lane change scenarios on public roads in multiple cities in the US and over 10; 000 in simulated case and statistical testing. Results show that the proposed algorithm and framework for autonomous vehicle improves the performance of autonomous lane change and entrance ramp handling. Compared with rule-based algorithms that were previously developed on an autonomous vehicle for these scenarios, over 95% of potentially unsafe situations are avoided.

Available for download on Saturday, May 25, 2019