EMVLight: a Multi-agent Reinforcement Learning Framework for an Emergency Vehicle Decentralized Routing and Traffic Signal Control System

27 Jun 2022  ·  Haoran Su, Yaofeng D. Zhong, Joseph Y. J. Chow, Biswadip Dey, Li Jin ·

Emergency vehicles (EMVs) play a crucial role in responding to time-critical calls such as medical emergencies and fire outbreaks in urban areas. Existing methods for EMV dispatch typically optimize routes based on historical traffic-flow data and design traffic signal pre-emption accordingly; however, we still lack a systematic methodology to address the coupling between EMV routing and traffic signal control. In this paper, we propose EMVLight, a decentralized reinforcement learning (RL) framework for joint dynamic EMV routing and traffic signal pre-emption. We adopt the multi-agent advantage actor-critic method with policy sharing and spatial discounted factor. This framework addresses the coupling between EMV navigation and traffic signal control via an innovative design of multi-class RL agents and a novel pressure-based reward function. The proposed methodology enables EMVLight to learn network-level cooperative traffic signal phasing strategies that not only reduce EMV travel time but also shortens the travel time of non-EMVs. Simulation-based experiments indicate that EMVLight enables up to a $42.6\%$ reduction in EMV travel time as well as an $23.5\%$ shorter average travel time compared with existing approaches.

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