ARPA-E Announces Five New Projects to Reduce Energy Use for Transportation

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) today announced $14.5 million in funding for five innovative projects as part of ARPA-E’s newest program, the Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation (TRANSNET). TRANSNET project teams will design new software systems that provide travelers information about energy-efficient transportation options to reach their destinations. If widely adopted, TRANSNET projects could facilitate significant reductions in energy use within existing infrastructure and transportation technologies.

Many travelers’ and commuters’ transportation choices waste significant amounts of energy due to traffic complications, convenience and variability in transportation styles and preferences. Even when presented with travel options that consume less energy, travelers and commuters may be less likely to use these energy-efficient options if they affect the duration, cost or convenience of a trip. 

TRANSNET systems will identify less energy-intense travel options for users using software accessible on smartphones or other communications devices and provide the most efficient transportation choices for travelers and commuters. To develop the software, project teams will use currently available data to simulate the transportation network of a U.S. urban region and quantify how much energy is used in various transportation patterns. The teams will also design control architectures to quantify energy reductions, identify user preferences and provide information needed to encourage a traveler to adopt efficient choices. If successful, TRANSNET projects will provide travelers information and signals to pursue more efficient travel, leading to less traffic, lower fuel consumption and emissions and more productive transportation networks.

Additional information on ARPA-E’s TRANSNET program may be found HERE. Details on the five TRANSNET projects may be found HERE.

Example of a selected TRANSNET project:

Georgia Tech Research Corporation | Atlanta, GA | Network Performance Monitoring and Distributed Simulation to Improve Transportation Energy Efficiency

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology will combine real-time analysis of transportation network data with distributed simulation modeling to provide drivers with information designed to reduce energy consumption as they travel. The team’s system model will use a variety of data including: real-time traffic monitoring of the Atlanta metro area provided by regional transportation systems; origin-destination patterns and highway speeds collected from cellular networks and provided through a partnership with AirSageTM; and real-time data on speed levels collected from 60,000 volunteers using a smartphone app. The researchers will use pattern recognition algorithms to identify traffic accidents and recurrent congestion and predict how traffic will respond. The team’s control architecture will communicate with users via the app, providing suggestions for altering departure times, routes and/or modes of transport to reduce energy consumption, without increasing the time or cost of the trip. The system will evaluate trips and provide travelers with useful information designed to incentivize energy efficiency.