LEVITATE in TRB annual meeting 2020

Perhaps the biggest transportation research conference in the world – TRB – took place this year from the 11th to 16th of January 2020. LEVITATE could not be missing from this prestigious event, and this year, the project was represented by several members: Dr Alkis Papadoulis, Prof Pete Thomas and Prof Mohammed Quddus from Loughborough University, Dr Jordi Casas from Aimsun and Prof Eleni Vlahogianni from National Technical University of Athens. As expected, Connected and Automated Transport Systems were one of the themes that dominated the agenda of the conference as they have been the research focus of industry and academia for the last few years.

TRB is always an excellent opportunity for European and International projects to interact with each other and attempt to learn from each other’s research. The members of LEVITATE, attended lectern sessions where several CATS-related projects were presented (Co-Exist, HumanDrive among others), and the following conclusions were drawn.

  1. Connected and Automated Driving data are starting to emerge. Microsimulation software companies are starting to develop their “autonomous” vehicle algorithms based on this data and several studies are starting to employ these models in order to evaluate the impact of Connected and Automated Vehicles in simple road network layouts. These studies could potentially be very useful for Levitate, as they can provide a basis of comparison for the results of Levitate and they can provide useful guidelines regarding the configuration of driving models in order to simulate connectivity and automation.
  2. The definition of Connected and Automated Vehicles in simulation terms hasCa not advanced significantly during the last few years. This is where Levitate will aim to contribute by defining new CAV behaviours that will emerge due to the sub-use cases so cities can evaluate them in the Policy support tool.
  3. The transferability of results is still an on-going and sensitive topic for simulation-related projects as simulation models are location specific and models must be individually tailored for each different city of interest.

Additionally, LEVITATE’s most recent piece of simulation work on parking pricing policies in the Connected and Automated Vehicle era was presented in the Freeway and CAV Simulation subcommittee. The session was well attended from experts of the field and the members of the project received very useful feedback that will help strengthen the sub-use case work in the future.

The project is looking forward to attending more meetings in Europe and worldwide in order to exchange opinions and thoughts about its methods and assumptions.

Webinar: the future impacts of automation in freight transport

This webinar, which took place on 23 April 2020, gave an insight on autonomous solutions in freight, as well as their future impacts and potentials in the transport sector.

Presentations
– Introduction of LEVITATE and its use case on freight transport
– VIL (Platform for the logistics sector in Flanders) presents their project ALEES
– Overview of ALICE on Autonomous Freight Transport Potentials

View webinar recording
Are you also curious about recent autonomous innovation in freight transport and research on their future impacts and potentials? Then have a look at the recording of the webinar.

About LEVITATE
LEVITATE is a 3-year project which main output will be a policy support tool (PST) to help local authorities forecast the impacts of automated vehicles over the short, medium and long-term. The PST will also contain a back-casting tool providing guidance to local authorities on which measures to implement to achieve desired outcomes against a backdrop of increasing vehicle automation.

Advances in Connected and Autonomous Mobility – IEEE ITSC 2020

The 2020 annual flagship conference of the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society will be held in Rhodes, Greece in September. LEVITATE will contribute to this conference with a special session: Advances in Connected and Autonomous Mobility: From Data to Models, Impacts and Enablers for Adoption.

Recent breakthroughs in technology, digital infrastructure, dynamic mapping and big data computing will transform the way we will plan, undertake, interact, make decisions and use our built environment and transportation infrastructure for the movement of people and goods. Connected and Autonomous Mobility (CAM), enabled by vehicle connectivity and automation, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT), allows unprecedented capability to collect, exchange and analyze large volumes of data to formulate models and tools for optimal decision making at individual, local and city levels and will, therefore, increasingly be revolutionized our economy and society over the next decade. However, to what extent they will disrupt mobility and transport operations is still a subject of research. CAM services are expected to emerge in various forms affecting different user groups and imposing network-level changes on various urban scales. To this end, understanding public acceptance and the levels of adoption (and respective timing) of emerging technologies, devising novel approaches and modeling tools to replicate mixed and CAV (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) traffic in large-scale urban networks for impact assessment and identifying large-scale procedures and policies for CAV traffic management are the key factors for successful deployment of CAM services.

This special session aims at:

  1. providing the audience with information about the deployment of state-of-the-art vehicular and transportation technologies to CAM in a smart city context;
  2. discussing the latest advancements, existing data, conceptual and modeling hurdles and challenges in both research and practice (particularly on the selected topics below)
  3. identifying potential research gaps and collaboration opportunities between industry and academia.

3rd Annual Workshop on System Dynamics in Transportation

The System Dynamics Society Special Interest Group in Transportation (SDS T-SIG) are pleased to announce that the 3rd Annual Workshop on System Dynamics in Transportation Modelling will take place in Palermo (Italy) on April 16th – 17th 2020, hosted by the Department DEMS & CED4 – System Dynamics Group, University of Palermo.

This free workshop will consist of a mix of presentations, practical sessions and network / sharing / collaboration building opportunities as well as the SDS T-SIG Annual Meeting. Participants do not need to be a SDS T-SIG member to present or attend.

The intention of the workshop is to showcase the range of research and practise being carried out in transport studies and planning using system dynamics (SD) as a modelling method, and it is designed to:

  • Promote the role of SD in transportation;
  • Facilitate communication and collaboration in transportation and SD;
  • Share teaching materials, works in progress, best practise case studies and state-of-the-art use of SD in transportation research and planning.

Read more »

VIDEO: LEVITATE project introduction

Pete Thomas, Project Coordinator, and project partners from the National Technical University of Athens and the University of Michigan express their views on the LEVITATE project during the second Consortium meeting in The Hague.

Have a look at the video:

2nd Stakeholder Reference Group workshop takes place in Brussels

The LEVITATE Stakeholder Reference Group met for the second time in the project’s lifetime for a workshop held on 26 November in Brussels. 37 people from across Europe, including many representatives of local and regional government, took part. The workshop provided an overview of the mechanics of the launch of the developing Policy Support Tool, which will be one of the main outputs of the project and is being  established to enable policy makers and planners to run their own assessment of the potential impact of connected and automated transport systems in their city or region and across several transport policy domains.. Valuable insights were collected on how to further develop this tool.

The aim of LEVITATE’s Policy Support Tool (PST) is to help public authorities predict the impact of connected and automated transport systems (CATS) and identify policy interventions to help achieve certain long-term mobility goals and/or to mitigate the potential negative effects of vehicle automation. A variety of stakeholders attended the meeting: local and regional authorities, national authorities, national road operators and researchers.

The workshop opened with an introduction by Suzanne Hoadley (Polis) on the vision of Polis on automation and other European projects related to automation, followed by Pete Thomas (Loughborough University), who introduced the LEVITATE project, its objectives and the aim of the workshop.

The first session focused on giving an overview of  the Policy Support Tool (PST): its components, what it can and cannot do, what input will be required and what the output might look like. George Yannis (National Technical University of Athens) demonstrated how the tool could work in the future, based on different assessment methods. He also presented one practical case to illustrate the tool’s expected functioning, doing so in a step by step process.

The different CATS impact areas were presented by Rune Elvik (Institute of Transport Economics), followed by an explanation of why they were selected (for more information on the impacts of CATS you can consult this report). Wolfgang Ponweiser (Austrian Institute of Technology) gave an overview of the CATS policy interventions (related to urban transport, economic incentives, access and space allocation). He introduced the backcasting method as a tool to predict the impacts of CATS, highlighting that backcasting starts with the city’s vision – the targets cities want to achieve.

After these presentations, the participants broke up into four smaller groups to discuss the PST and the backcasting methodology. Participants gave their views on the PST structure that had been presented, its usability and the functionalities it should have, and reflected on the reasons why they would use it. The challenges that could be faced during the development of the PST were also discussed, and some ideas on how it could be improved arose. During the discussion, participants also provided insights about the policy interventions they considered to be the most relevant.

Their feedback was collected by the project partners, who closed the session by reflecting on the main conclusions of the workshop and laying out the next steps for the LEVITATE project.

LEVITATE partner in the spotlight

Questions to Anna Craciun, Transport for Greater Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is the local government body responsible for delivering Greater Manchester’s transport strategy and commitments. TfGM is committed to leading change and supporting the 10 Local Authorities within Greater Manchester with the implementation of new technology and mobility solutions underpinned by our 2040 Transport Vision and Innovation Strategies. Anna Craciun is TfGM’s lead on  project Synergy and project LEVITATE which have become the foundation for TfGM’s developing Policy and Deployment Strategy for autonomous vehicles.

Q: As a city partner, how do you contribute to project LEVITATE and why did you join the project?

A: Innovation is imperative for the transport sector and TfGM have built a long term portfolio of forward-thinking pilots and projects, including LEVITATE, which are aligned with our 2040 Transport Vision. Project LEVITATE enables TfGM to respond to the fast-paced autonomous mobility sector with robust resources like the Policy Support Tool being developed by the LEVITATE consortium.

Q: What are TfGM’s views on and vision for connected and automated transport systems?

A: The future of commercial automated transport services and their operation in complex urban environments is still uncertain and TfGM, like others, is not in a position to predict this. Instead we can create robust strategies to ensure Greater Manchester becomes a hub for innovation. Extensive collaboration with a myriad of UK and international partners such as the Depart for Transport, the Law Commission, UITP and POLIS has allowed us to develop a set of “guiding principles for automated transport” that will ensure autonomous vehicles emerge in line with our wider vision for Greater Manchester.

TfGM are also supporting the work University of Salford are carrying out as part of their Automotive and Autonomous Vehicle Technology Course that launched in September 2018. This is a great step towards strengthening the labour market in Manchester and strengthens the links with our academic partner in finding new solutions for cyber security and traffic control through live testing and behavioural analysis.

Q: How and in which context are you planning to use the Policy Support Tool? In which way will it be useful for a city in general?

A: Being part of the LEVITATE project has enabled TfGM to input into the development of the PST. This will ultimately allow us to validate the tool and align its outcomes to our 2040 Transport Strategy and our emerging Greater Manchester Policy and Deployment Strategy for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

The PST will be a fantastic way for local authorities to consider how they can futureproof their infrastructure, data governance and local policies so that CAV services will be able to operate on their roads and seamlessly travel across district, and even regional boundaries. The tool could also provide a pathway to implementation of the Regional Strategic Principles as it would highlight any shortfalls that different authorities will need to overcome to ensure they are CAV-ready.

Q: When do you think automated transport systems are going to be widespread in urban areas? How do you see this evolution in a short, middle and long timeframe?

A: The driving force (excuse the pun) behind the technology is not the same as that behind public regulation, therefore estimating a timeline for market penetration and uptake in usage/ownership could misinform decision makers. Instead, governing bodies should direct their efforts towards upskilling their staff on new legislation such as GDPR and towards considering what this might mean for new modes of mobility.

CAVs are already being tested in managed and mixed-traffic environments as part of trials and are operating in segregated environments such as university campuses, however, to gain a broader vote of confidence, legal and ethical frameworks must be established at the national and sub-national level so that manufacturers and operators have cohesive guidelines to adhere to.

In the short term, I think the focus may be on connected (and not necessarily autonomous) vehicles, harnessing the benefits this can bring in terms of the data they will generate.

Q: In your opinion, what role should a transport authority, like TfGM, play in relation to the development and deployment of CAVs?

A: TfGM, like other transport authorities, is already engaged in a series of activities relating to the testing, development and deployment of CAVs. I think what makes us stand out is that we are developing our strategy alongside project partners, district colleagues, public and private stakeholders and Greater Manchester Residents.

In October we held our first Citizen’s Conversation on Driverless Mobility. This was a full day workshop with almost 100 residents from across Greater Manchester that allowed us to share the work we have completed so far, ask for advice on which use-cases we should focus on and understand the work we still need to undertake.

Our role, as a transport authority, is to continue this sort of work; first identifying what our resident’s priorities and needs are, and then looking to innovations like CAVs to see how they can be deployed in a way that addresses these priorities.

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For more information email to: innovation@tfgm.com or anna.craciun@tfgm.com

Defining the future of urban, passenger car, and freight transport

LEVITATE is currently building tools to help European cities, regions and national governments prepare for a future with increasing levels of automated vehicles in passenger cars, urban transport services and urban logistics. The project is preparing a new impact assessment framework to enable policy makers to maximise the benefits of connected and automated transport systems (CATS) and utilise the technologies to achieve societal objectives.

Defining the future of urban, passenger car, and freight transport

Recently several reports have been published within the LEVITATE project. A set of three deliverables provide the working framework under which each of the project use cases and its impacts, can be defined. Namely, Defining the future of urban transport (D5.1); Defining the future of passenger car transport (D6.1) and Defining the future of freight transport (D7.1).

Findings were obtained in two ways: through literature review, and through a dedicated stakeholder workshop to gather the views from a group of experts (Stakeholder Reference Group or SRG) on the future of CATS and their application. This workshop was held in Gothenburg on 28th of May 2019 and counted with the participation of 40 experts. An informed list of sub-use cases of possible interest from a CATS perspective was developed for use cases of urban transport, passenger cars and freight transport

Overall, according to workshop experts, CATS are mainly expected to supplement public transport functions. The deployment of cooperative, connected and autonomous vehicles may have considerable impacts on urban transport operations, through advanced city shuttles and other micro-transit vehicles. There are many opportunities that would be available through these new technologies and cities would need to prepare to take full advantage of them. The report aims at defining expected penetration rates, influenced by market forces and technology adoption. In general, the reviewed literature suggests the future of CATS to be positive in terms of their impacts on traffic, safety, environment, economy and mobility. However, their uptake is most likely to be influenced by trust and user’s acceptance.

Initial screening of literature on connected and automated passenger cars suggests that they have potential to increase the capacity of lanes and lead to a reduction in congestion and fuel consumption in the short-term. However, they could increase travel demand due to changes in destination choices (for example, longer journeys), changes in transport mode (shift from public transport) and introduction of new users. Various forecasting studies show that the claimed (by CATS industry) benefits of the widespread use of automated passenger cars for personal use, would only be achieved if we move from a privately owned to a shared-ownership model. In addition, the use of automated passenger cars for personal use is more likely to be lower than their use as mobility services due to the prohibitive initial vehicle purchase costs.

Compared to passenger cars, user acceptance of CATS technology in urban freight is less of an issue. The reason is that these vehicles are acquired and used by freight operators. Freight vehicles can be regarded as tools and driving as a job. Therefore, commercialisation of automated freight vehicles has different driving factors to automated passenger cars. Roadmaps of European associations, however, differentiate between urban freight transport and long-distance freight transport, with CATS having a major role in the latter. A literature search on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (automation level 1 and 2) show their impacts on traffic, safety, environment, mobility and society. The systems are similar to those of passenger cars, with the exception of a few systems such as speed limiters or automatic electronic tolling system which are more relevant for freight vehicles. The consensus of the SRG was that collaboration between freight operators should be achieved by facilitating data sharing, utilising consolidation centres, and improving last mile solutions.

The findings of these deliverables will be key in the further development of the use cases and provide the foundation for subsequent work to look at short-, medium- and long-term impacts.

You can access all the publications and learn more about the project here.

A taxonomy of potential impacts of connected and automated vehicles

LEVITATE is currently building tools to help European cities, regions and national governments prepare for a future with increasing levels of automated vehicles in passenger cars, urban transport services and urban logistics. The project is preparing a new impact assessment framework to enable policy makers to maximise the benefits of connected and automated transport systems (CATS) and utilise the technologies to achieve societal objectives.

Deliverable 3.1: A taxonomy of potential impacts of connected and automated vehicles

Recently several reports have been published within the LEVITATE project. Deliverable 3.1, A taxonomy of potential impacts of connected and automated vehicles at different levels of implementation focuses on the identification of potential impacts of CATs and indicators that can be used to measure these impacts.

D3.1 provides an inventory and classification of impacts of CATS at different levels of implementation and on different topics such as road safety, mobility and efficiency, environment, economy and society. A distinction is made between direct, systemic and wider impacts. Direct impacts are changes that are noticed by each road user on each trip; Systemic impacts are system-wide impacts within the transport system; and wider impacts are changes occurring outside the transport system, such as changes in land use and employment.  Furthermore, a distinction is made between primary impacts and secondary impacts.

The report highlights that the actual impacts of connected and automated transport systems are unknown and will remain so for a long time. However, potential impacts can be identified, and preliminary estimates can be developed. Most analysts believe that a wide implementation of CATS will improve road safety and possibly the efficiency of traffic operations. However, the reliability of automation technology is currently unknown, and there will most likely be unforeseen and rare events that we cannot be taken into account. With regards to policy making, the report points out that highly uncertain estimates of impacts may serve as the basis for identifying policy interventions to increase the likelihood that impacts will be in the desired direction (e.g., policies that can help prevent the urban sprawl that CATs are expected to increase).

The findings of this deliverable will be key in the further development of the use cases and provide the foundation for subsequent work to look at short-, medium- and long-term impacts.

You can access all the publications and learn more about the project here.

SRG workshop

Registration for the 2nd LEVITATE Stakeholder Workshop is now open

The LEVITATE consortium is pleased to invite stakeholders, in particular public authorities, road users, researchers and industry players to participate in the Stakeholder Workshop, to discuss how the policy support tool (PST) – developed by the project – could help cities identifying the possible societal level impacts of connected and automated vehicles on roads.

The aim of this second meeting is to gather feedback from stakeholders on the first version of the policy support tool:

  • predict the impact of vehicle automation (forecasting tool) and
  • identify (policy) interventions to help achieve certain long-term mobility goals and/or to mitigate the potential negative effects of vehicle automation (backcasting tool).

The LEVITATE partners would like to hear your thoughts about (i) the structure and usability of the tool; (ii) which functionalities it should have; (iii) what level of customisation it should offer to enable meaningful outputs for users; and (iv) the backcasting methodology.

Workshop participants will have the opportunity to see how the first version of the policy support tool works using realistic scenarios and to provide feedback on the content of some of the building blocks of the tool, such as the measures that public authorities can take to manage the arrival of automated vehicles (policy interventions).

When?
9:00-15:00, 26 November

Where?
The EGG, Rue Bara 175, Brussels (just before the Polis Conference)

Registration: online