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Article | Energy Systems Division

Argonne sheds light on promise, implications of mobility technologies

Advanced mobility solutions such as new drivetrains and controls in individual vehicles, new travel modes like ride-hailing and micro-mobility, and new infrastructure and system management strategies like connected signals and intelligent transportation systems have been developed in recent years. The focus of these efforts is on mitigating congestion, and making people connect to the goods and services they seek efficiently, cleanly, and affordably.

E-commerce is expected to generate a large increase in last-mile delivery of goods, Auld said. However, after accounting for shopping trip reductions and vehicle technology changes, simulations show that there will be an overall net reduction in vehicle miles travelled (VMT) by up to 56 percent and energy use reduction up to 55 percent across the Chicago metropolitan area.”

However, often unknown or unaddressed questions remain: What energy implications and opportunities are inherent in these solutions? Do gains in one area require tradeoffs in another? The Department of Energy’s Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation, or SMART Mobility Consortium, is dedicated to answering those kinds of important questions.

Impact of sharing on energy and VMT. (Image by Christopher Galvin / Argonne National Laboratory.)

 

The SMART Mobility Consortium is based upon a fundamental principle”, said Aymeric Rousseau, Vehicle and Mobility Systems Group Manager. Transportation is a system of systems,” wherein myriad of factors such as connected vehicles penetration, variable traveler behavior, shared ridership, micro-mobility, transit, and e-commerce operate simultaneously, creating outcomes not attributable to any one element alone.”

Mobility impact in Chicago without transit. (Image by Christopher Galvin / Argonne National Laboratory.)

 

Argonne insights shed light on the impact of numerous technologies including vehicle electrification, automated vehicles [AVs], transit, ride hailing, freight, and e-commerce across a large number of scenarios. And more importantly, the insights look at these technologies in combination — i.e., how do changes in one technology influence the impacts of the other technologies. Such interaction effects can be additive, destructive, or have no interaction, depending on many factors.

At the heart of transportation system simulation is traveler behavior,” said Joshua Auld, Technical Manager for Transportation Systems and Mobility at Argonne. For what purposes do people travel? When and where do they decide to go? How do they get there? These are critical questions driving traveler behavior and influence strongly the outcome of different system interventions.”

System level energy impact of e-commerce, (Image by Christopher Galvin / Argonne National Laboratory.)

 

Because of a lower value of travel time, Argonne researchers found that households that owned AVs exhibited substantially different travel behavior compared to households without AVs in simulation studies. This behavior includes a propensity to make longer discretionary trips during peak evening hours and to take more single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips. Argonne researchers also found through scenario analysis that ride sharing and transit could be complimentary and reduce energy consumption and congestion, resulting in faster travel on the road.

Transit is vital to the overall transportation system,” Auld said. In a Chicago metropolitan area-based scenario with no transit, all mobility and energy metrics become substantially worse in the urban core: there is a 52 percent increase in vehicle hours travelled (VHT) and a 23 percent decrease in travel efficiency.”

Over the past several years, and more recently with COVID, e-commerce has seen a significant adoption uptake. Understanding the impacts of e-commerce growth is a perfect example of system analysis as increases in freight delivery are offset by decreases in passenger travel, impacting overall congestion and energy use in a beneficial way.

E-commerce is expected to generate a large increase in last-mile delivery of goods, Auld said. However, after accounting for shopping trip reductions and vehicle technology changes, simulations show that there will be an overall net reduction in vehicle miles travelled (VMT) by up to 56 percent and energy use reduction up to 55 percent across the Chicago metropolitan area.”

Overall, the findings and insights from the SMART Mobility program are expected to help guide many different agencies and organizations in the development and deployment of new mobility technologies, and to help ensure that this development has a focus on energy efficiency and productivity.

Original equipment manufacturers, city planners, metropolitan planning organizations, mobility service providers, transit agencies, and many others can benefit from the insights of the SMART Mobility consortium,” Rousseau said.

Funding was provided by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office under the SMART Mobility Consortium.