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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Exploratory Advanced Research Program

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Predicting Societal and Complex Natural Systems

Current research in this focus area

Project Title and Short Description



Modeling the Urban Continuum in an Integrated Framework: Location Choice, Activity-Travel Behavior, and Dynamic Traffic Patterns - This project constitutes a comprehensive attempt to develop and demonstrate an integrated simulation approach that incorporates the land use patterns, dynamic travel behavior, and dynamic traffic patterns of urban systems modeling. Land use microsimulation models that attempt to simulate market dynamics (location choices) in the land sector, activity-travel behavior models that attempt to simulate the activity-travel patterns of individuals and vehicles along the continuous time axis, and dynamic traffic assignment models that attempt to simulate network dynamics and performance in real time, are key elements of this effort.
Fact sheet here.

Arizona State University with the University of Arizona and the University of Washington

Underway with anticipated completion in 2011

Behavioral Sciences Approach to Testing, Validating, and Establishing Best Practices for Alternative Highway Revenue Collection - One must understand some fundamental behavioral characteristics of individuals in order to properly understand traffic behavior, and to design best practices for highway revenue collection. Thus the experimental approach involves a significant focus on the rigorous measurement of these characteristics, and the extent to which they vary across different segments of the relevant driving population. The approach is focused on characterizing drivers in terms of their value of time, risk attitude, accuracy of risk perception and discount rate.
Fact sheet here.

University of Central Florida

Underway with completion anticipated in 2012

Assessing the Potential of Automated Transit Services and Effective Pedestrian/Bicycle Facilities on Urban Travel Patterns - This project will employ agent-based modeling and activity based transit demand modeling. After identifying ideal and target communities and conducting a preliminary sketch analysis to serve as a basis of comparison, the research will proceed with the modeling effort. The virtual decision makers in software, often called agents, include residents, consumers, government, transport providers, vehicle manufactures, energy providers, and others. By developing these models with population, land use, and transit patterns consistent with actual locations and using reasonable and accepted decision rules consistent with the different classes of agents, they are expecting the sought after collective responses revealed in the temporal demand and use function to be quite consistent with those in actual locations.

University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

Underway with completion anticipated in 2012

Supply Chain-Based Solution to Prevent Fuel Tax Evasion - The proposed research is a unique concept for targeting fuel tax evasion that could result in two important breakthroughs. The first is in-line sensors to authenticate nanoscale markers in the fuel. The second is integration of exterior sensors to detect the volume of fuel in a tank truck and determine the open or closed position of the valve and GPS communication. The research addresses preventing three types of fuel tax evasion: (1) non-taxable or low-taxable petrochemical products from being "blended" with taxable fuel products; (2) taxable fuel products from cross-jurisdictional evasion (i.e. paying State tax in a low tax State but selling in a high tax State); (3) selling "exported" fuel domestically.

Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Underway with anticipated completion in August 2012

Multi-Modal Connectivity Options for a Future Seamless Transportation System - The objective is to harness emerging information technologies in an innovative use of computational thinking to develop a new type of decentralized  transportation system, the Transportation Market, capable of real-time allocation of resources. The premise is that an intelligent use of traffic information will help users make decisions that will tap into unused vehicle capacity, radically transforming the way people use transportation systems.

University of Southern California

Underway with anticipated completion in November 2013

Mega-Regional Travel - This project will work toward a multi-disciplinary, multi-modal, multi-level modeling system for the nation's operative regions for global economic competition.  The analysis focuses on a critical, overarching, complex, and vexing aspect of transportation policy decisions: how the cost and the pricing of different regional transportation investments affects travel performance in the large mega-region.  The project will conduct a number of transportation pricing experiments and examine how changes in prices affect travel behavior, land use, economic growth, residential energy consumption, and regional environmental impacts.

University of Maryland

Underway with anticipated completion in February 2012


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