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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-18-042    Date:  November 2018
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-18-042
Date: November 2018


FHWA Research and Technology Evaluation: Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation

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The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Research and Technology Program furthers the FHWA Office of Research, Development, and Technology’s (RD&T’s) goal of ensuring transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness of RD&T for all stakeholders.

This report examines how FHWA’s investment in agent-based modeling and simulation (ABMS) through the FHWA Exploratory Advanced Research Program has increased awareness of and contributed to the development and deployment of the technology.

This report should be of interest to engineers, practitioners, researchers, and decisionmakers involved with the research, design, performance, and management of ABMS.

Hari Kalla, P.E.
Associate Administrator, Office of Research,
Development, and Technology


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.


Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.


3 Recipient's Catalog No.


4. Title and Subtitle

FHWA Research and Technology Evaluation: Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation

5. Report Date

November 2018

6. Performing Organization Code

OST-R V-321

7. Author(s)

Greg Bucci, Chris Calley, and Michael Green

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
55 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)


11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report; 2009–2017

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

John Moulden (HRTM-10) is the Research and Technology Program Manager and the Contracting Officer's Representative for this report.

16. Abstract

The overall purpose of this evaluation was to understand the effect of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Research and Technology Program activities on the implementation of agent-based approaches to transportation-related projects and activities. Agent-based modeling and simulation (ABMS) uses individual “agents,” typically drivers and agencies, to model changes in transportation networks and systems. Researchers and industry stakeholders view ABMS and the data-collection and validation processes that ABMS requires as a valuable, emerging practice that can be used to advance existing transportation-modeling and simulation techniques. ABMS can also be used for various transportation applications, including planning, operations, and safety countermeasures. As a result, the discipline and community are growing, and usage of ABMS approaches is expanding. The evaluation team assessed the role the FHWA Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program played in this growth and how the EAR Program–funded research led to further developments and advancements. Beginning in 2009, the FHWA EAR Program began investigating the use of agent-based modeling techniques for characterizing driver and traveler behavior. The EAR Program sought to address technological advancements being applied to vehicles within the transportation network.

17. Key Words

Agent-based modeling, ABMS, Exploratory Advanced Research, EAR Program

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized




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