Efficient Ridesharing Order Dispatching with Mean Field Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Minne Li, Zhiwei, Qin, Yan Jiao, Yaodong Yang, Zhichen Gong, Jun Wang, Chenxi Wang, Guobin Wu, Jieping Ye

A fundamental question in any peer-to-peer ridesharing system is how to, both effectively and efficiently, dispatch user's ride requests to the right driver in real time. Traditional rule-based solutions usually work on a simplified problem setting, which requires a sophisticated hand-crafted weight design for either centralized authority control or decentralized multi-agent scheduling systems. Although recent approaches have used reinforcement learning to provide centralized combinatorial optimization algorithms with informative weight values, their single-agent setting can hardly model the complex interactions between drivers and orders. In this paper, we address the order dispatching problem using multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL), which follows the distributed nature of the peer-to-peer ridesharing problem and possesses the ability to capture the stochastic demand-supply dynamics in large-scale ridesharing scenarios. Being more reliable than centralized approaches, our proposed MARL solutions could also support fully distributed execution through recent advances in the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) and the Vehicle-to-Network (V2N). Furthermore, we adopt the mean field approximation to simplify the local interactions by taking an average action among neighborhoods. The mean field approximation is capable of globally capturing dynamic demand-supply variations by propagating many local interactions between agents and the environment. Our extensive experiments have shown the significant improvements of MARL order dispatching algorithms over several strong baselines on the gross merchandise volume (GMV), and order response rate measures. Besides, the simulated experiments with real data have also justified that our solution can alleviate the supply-demand gap during the rush hours, thus possessing the capability of reducing traffic congestion.

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