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Transportation and Power Systems Division

POLARIS Transportation System Simulation Tool

High-performance, open-source agent-based modeling framework to estimate impacts on mobility at the regional level

POLARIS is a high-performance, open-source agent-based modeling framework designed for simulating large-scale transportation systems. The suite includes a discrete-event engine, memory management, visualization capabilities, and an extensible repository of common transportation objects which allows the rapid development of simulation software that satisfy individual project needs. A full-featured transportation systems simulation has been created using this framework and includes traffic flow simulation, activity based demand simulation, model building and analysis geographic information system (GIS) tools, and tools for result analysis. The key feature of the framework is that it allows for developing integrated models. For example, in integrated network-demand model, all of the aspects of travel decisions (departure time, destination choice, planning and rescheduling as well as route choices) can be modeled simultaneously. POLARIS enables the creation of integrated, interoperable, and extensible transportation systems models to evaluate transportation improvements, such as management and operations policies, new mobility options and new technologies. POLARIS is integrated with powertrain simulator Autonomie to perform regional energy use analysis.


  • Extensible model structure allows for enhancing existing models to include new mobility solutions and technologies, such as connected and automated vehicles or mobility as a service.
  • Integration with powertrain simulation Autonomie allows understanding the energy impacts transportation systems in metropolitan areas
  • Flexible programming paradigm allows developing project-specific software by building on top of existing libraries and extending functionality
  • High-performance implementation allows for fast run times and nearly real-time analysis of large scale systems
  • Efficient memory use allows for large scale models to be run on commodity hardware
  • Tight integration of demand and network models allows for a wide range of analysis scenarios
  • Eco-system of tools that supports a full life cycle of a transportation model, from network development and debugging to results analysis


  • Evaluation of the energy impact of vehicle and transportation technologies in a multi-agent context (small neighborhoods to entire metropolitan areas)
  • Energy impact of connected and automated vehicles at the regional level
  • Evaluating benefits of Intelligent Transportation Systems