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FM bags two awards at TRB Meeting


Congratulations (top) SMART FM Takanori (L) and Ravi and their Lead PI Moshe (bottom 2nd from right); and their respective team members


Congratulations SMART Future Urban Mobility (FM) Principal Investigator (PI) Moshe Ben-Akiva and FM team members Dr Takanori Sakai and Dr Ravi Seshadri for receiving two distinct Best Paper awards during the 97th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Meeting. Postdoctoral Associate Dr Takanori Sakai received the 2018 Best Paper Award from the TRB Urban Freight Transportation Committee for his paper “Testing the ‘Freight Landscape’ Concept for Paris”. He is the lead author and his co-authors are colleagues from IFSTTAR, University of Paris-East: Adrien Beziat, Adeline Heitz, and Laetitia Dablanc. Sakai previously won this award in 2017. In their paper, Sakai and his colleagues aimed to understand if secondary data, including population and economic activities, could be leveraged to better understand the urban freight landscape. This method is particularly important given that urban freight data can be difficult to collect due to the high costs of freight survey companies. The findings may enable policy-makers to make better city planning decisions. “There is growing concern about urban freight impact in the context of dynamic changes in logistics practices and increasingly densely inhabited urban areas. The use of widely available economic datasets to infer urban freight distribution is a simple but strong approach considering that it has been under-studied in the past.” “One of my research thrust at SMART is to explore methods to collect urban freight data efficiently and comprehensively by leveraging technology, which is another approach to tackle the same issue raised in the paper. We hope to make a case for state-of-the-art data collection and use them to develop a component for our next-generation urban simulation platform, SimMobility Freight,” said Sakai. Postdoctoral Associate Dr Arun Prakash, Research Scientist Dr Ravi Seshadri, Professor Francisco Pereira, Professor Constantinos Antoniou and Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva received the Best Simulation Application Paper Award from the TRB Joint Traffic Simulation Subcommittee (SimSub) for their paper entitled “Improving Scalability of Generic Online Calibration for Real-time Dynamic Traffic Assignment Systems”. SimSub is a joint committee that focuses on coordinating advancements in traffic simulation and promoting and endorsing the use of simulations tools in transportation systems analysis. The paper presents an enhanced approach to make the generic online calibration of Dynamic Traffic Assignment (DTA) systems scalable. The team developed a scalable version of the problem formulation that included parameters for both the supply and demand models. This work has significant potential for widespread application of real-time DTA systems in practice. This research is a breakthrough for the team working on DynaMIT2.0– a multi-modal, data driven, simulation-based short-term prediction system – as the findings have helped them overcome a key computational challenge and made simulation based real-time traffic prediction systems truly operational. Seshadri explained: “Real-time Dynamic Traffic Assignment systems generate short-term predictions of future network conditions such as the average flow of vehicles moving along the road. The accuracy of these predictions relies on the ability to adjust simulation parameters (termed online calibration) like the number of trips between various points in a network, in real-time (every 5 minutes) based on the measurements obtained from the network. Prior to this research, making real-time DTA systems operational for large urban networks was a significant challenge due to the computational complexity of the online calibration problem.” Ben-Akiva added: “This award recognises the outstanding teamwork of researchers at both SMART and at MIT. Dr. Prakash began working on this paper while a postdoctoral associate at SMART in early 2016. He and Dr. Seshadri were able to keep the momentum of this innovative research going upon Dr. Prakash’s transition to MIT and we are honored to receive this award.” The TRB meeting was held in Washing DC and the award was presented on 8 January 2018.



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