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Contact duration between moving vehicles is one of the key metrics in vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs), that critically influences the design of routing schemes and network throughput. Due to prohibitive costs to collect enough realistic contact records, little experimental work has been conducted to study the contact duration in urban VANETs. In this work, we carry out an extensive experiment involving tens of thousands of operational taxis in Beijing city. Based on studying this newly collected Beijing trace and the existing Shanghai trace, we find an invariant characteristic that there exists a characteristic time point, up to which the contact duration obeys an exponential distribution that includes at least 80% of the whole distribution, while beyond which it decays as a power law one. This property is in sharp contrast to the recent empirical data studies based on human mobility, where the contact duration exhibits a power law distribution. Our observations thus provide fundamental guidelines for the design of new urban VANETs' routing protocols and their performance evaluation.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2013