Batch-Augmented Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for Efficient Traffic Signal Optimization

19 May 2020  ·  Yueh-Hua Wu, I-Hau Yeh, David Hu, Hong-Yuan Mark Liao ·

The goal of this work is to provide a viable solution based on reinforcement learning for traffic signal control problems. Although the state-of-the-art reinforcement learning approaches have yielded great success in a variety of domains, directly applying it to alleviate traffic congestion can be challenging, considering the requirement of high sample efficiency and how training data is gathered. In this work, we address several challenges that we encountered when we attempted to mitigate serious traffic congestion occurring in a metropolitan area. Specifically, we are required to provide a solution that is able to (1) handle the traffic signal control when certain surveillance cameras that retrieve information for reinforcement learning are down, (2) learn from batch data without a traffic simulator, and (3) make control decisions without shared information across intersections. We present a two-stage framework to deal with the above-mentioned situations. The framework can be decomposed into an Evolution Strategies approach that gives a fixed-time traffic signal control schedule and a multi-agent off-policy reinforcement learning that is capable of learning from batch data with the aid of three proposed components, bounded action, batch augmentation, and surrogate reward clipping. Our experiments show that the proposed framework reduces traffic congestion by 36% in terms of waiting time compared with the currently used fixed-time traffic signal plan. Furthermore, the framework requires only 600 queries to a simulator to achieve the result.

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