A Global Collaboration to Chart the Future of Urban Mobility

MIT teams up with three universities in Singapore to develop smart, sustainable urban transportation solutions

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Jamie Goh
Email: jaime_goh@nrf.gov.sg
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National Research Foundation

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Research
Foundation of Singapore today announced the launch of a project to
develop new models and tools for the planning, design, and operation of
future urban transportation. Aimed at making urban transportation
systems more environmentally sustainable — first in Singapore, and
ultimately on a global scale — these new models will be developed and
deployed by nearly 60 researchers from four academic institutions.

five-year project will be led by Amedeo Odoni, Professor of Aeronautics
and Astronautics and of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and engage
some 30 other faculty and researchers from the School of Engineering,
the Sloan School of Management, and the School of Architecture and
Planning at MIT. Assisting their efforts will be approximately 25
faculty members from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang
Technological University, and the Singapore Management University. This
project will be a significant increase in the scale of
transportation-related research conducted by MIT faculty and students.

on this scale is remarkable-and absolutely necessary if we are going to
address an issue as complex as urban transportation and mobility," says
Subra Suresh, Dean of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor of
Engineering at MIT. "When addressing issues today, especially those
affecting the climate, it is not sufficient to take complex problems
apart and merely investigate incremental improvements to their
components," he says. "This project will leave the challenges of
transportation intact and try to address them all simultaneously. This
new project will also benefit enormously from the Transportation@MIT
initiative and Engineering School-wide faculty searches we launched
earlier this year to create new opportunities to address major
transportation challenges of this century."

At the heart of the
Singapore project is SimMobility, a simulation platform with an
integrated model of human and commercial activities, land use,
transportation, environmental impacts, and energy use. This simulation
will be linked with a range of networked computing and control
technology-enabled mobility innovations. The project's researchers plan
to use the data generated by these devices, and a range of new
analytical tools that harness real-time information and management
systems, to design and evaluate new mobility solutions for urban
settings in and beyond Singapore.

"The central theme of this
project is straightforward and ambitious," says Odoni. "Can we bring
together the extraordinary recent advances in information technology
and transportation science and increase the capacity and efficiency of
urban transportation systems to provide high-quality service to urban
travelers? And can we, at the same time, ensure a sustainable and
livable environment?"

In addition to being one of the most
technologically advanced nations in the world, Singapore already has a
robust urban transportation system, as well as one of the world's most
complete suites of sustainable mobility policies, regulations, and
practices. "Singapore is an ideal location to test some of these
ideas," says Professor Cynthia Barnhart, an operations researcher and
one of the organizers of the project.

"When we launched the
Transportation@MIT initiative last spring, we knew we could bring
people from different departments and backgrounds together around
ideas," Barnhart says. "Now, we will work together to create mobility
innovations that improve productivity of our transportation
infrastructure, reduce the associated environmental and energy impacts,
and enhance the transportation experiences for the traveling public."
Barnhart, the School of Engineering's Associate Dean for Academic
Affairs, is the faculty director of Transportation@MIT and a Professor
of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems. Other
key faculty participants are Professors Moshe Ben-Akiva (CEE), Emilio
Frazzoli (Aero/Astro), Patrick Jaillet (CEE), Li-Shiuan Peh (EECS),
Carlo Ratti (DUSP), and Christopher Zegras (DUSP).

a sustainable urban transportation system is a major challenge faced by
many cities, including Singapore," says Dr. Francis Yeoh, Chief
Executive Officer of the Singapore National Research Foundation. "We
have invested greatly over the years in our infrastructure for land
transportation. We are hopeful that the results from this collaborative
research project with MIT would help us improve the productivity of our
infrastructure significantly and establish Singapore as a pioneer and
leader in sustainable urban transportation."

The Future of
Urban Mobility team is the fourth interdisciplinary research group in
the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre, or SMART
Centre. The first three groups are in biosystems and micromechanics,
environmental sensing and modeling, and infectious diseases. SMART is
MIT's largest international research endeavor and the first research
center of its kind located outside Cambridge, Mass. Rohan Abeyaratne,
the Quentin Berg Professor of Mechanics in the Department of Mechanical
Engineering, is the current director of the SMART Center.

Topics: Singapore-MIT, Transportation@MIT

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