Playing Chicken with Autonomous Vehicles

Adam Millard-Ball


Autonomous vehicles, popularly known as self-driving cars, have the potential to transform travel behavior. However, existing analyses have ignored strategic interactions with other road users. In this article, I use game theory to analyze the interactions between pedestrians and autonomous vehicles, with a focus on yielding at crosswalks. Because autonomous vehicles will be risk-averse, the model suggests that pedestrians will be able to behave with impunity, and autonomous vehicles may facilitate a shift toward pedestrian-oriented urban neighborhoods. At the same time, autonomous vehicle adoption may be hampered by their strategic disadvantage that slows them down in urban traffic.

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