Launched in 2020, the MIT Mobility Initiative (MMI) is a unique cross-Institute initiative aimed at convening key stakeholders to drive innovation, while providing unbiased strategic direction to guide a deeper collective understanding of mobility challenges, and shape a mobility system that is sustainable, safe, clean, and accessible.
“The mobility system is undergoing profound transformation with new technologies — autonomy, electrification, and AI — colliding with new and evolving priorities and objectives including decarbonization, public health, and social justice,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the MIT School of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “The time frame for these changes, decarbonization in particular, is short in a system with massive amounts of fixed, long-life assets and entrenched behaviors and cultures.”
The MMI, a collaboration between the School of Engineering and the School of Architecture and Planning, is designed as a platform to connect all mobility and transportation activities at MIT, building an integrated approach for the Institute’s efforts on research, education, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement related to transportation systems.
“As cities grapple with the challenges of congestion, pollution, and vehicle-related fatalities, new mobility systems offer the possibility for dramatic urban transformation,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. “Our aim is to provide a platform for many stakeholders to jointly build a better mobility future in the world’s cities.”
The five inaugural industry affiliate members of the MMI represent the many diverse sectors engaging with and innovating within mobility:
- Ferrovial, a sustainable infrastructure and mobility company;
- Hyundai Motor Group, a global corporation offering smart and sustainable mobility solutions;
- Intel, a technology leader driving innovation, enabling global progress, and enriching lives;
- Liberty Mutual Insurance, a global property and casualty insurer providing protection for the unexpected in an increasingly mobile world; and
- Toyota, a multinational company committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility.
“Our collaboration with the MIT Mobility Initiative aligns with our strategic focus on open innovation and learning outside the enterprise” says Youngcho Chi, president and chief innovation officer for Hyundai.
Dimitris Bountolos, CIO for Ferrovial, adds, “The MMI is the perfect meeting point to share Ferrovial knowledge, learning together with mobility experts, technologists, and OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] on how to build a sustainable future of mobility where infrastructures will be key.”
Ann Stanberry, chief strategy officer for Liberty Mutual, says, “The way people move is constantly evolving, and our engagement with the MIT Mobility Initiative and its industry members ensures that we are on the forefront of this change — working together to help people get where they need to be safely and with peace of mind.”
The Mobility Initiative’s research agenda is centered around answering the most difficult, cross-disciplinary questions inherent in today’s mobility challenges. The initial research is focused on autonomous and connected mobility and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. MIT researchers are exploring how to quantify and value risk for autonomous vehicles; how to ensure the cybersecurity of the infrastructure supporting their movement; and how to use innovative data methodologies to identify the gaps in today’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
“Strengthening MIT’s engagement in the global mobility community is a priority for the initiative. It is critical to build a program that would ultimately have a real-world impact,” says Jinhua Zhao, the Edward and Joyce Linde Associate Professor of City and Transportation Planning, and founder and faculty director of the MIT Mobility Initiative. Zhao is host of the MIT Mobility Forum, which features the innovative research taking place across disciplines at the MIT. First founded in 2020, the weekly forum now reaches nearly 10,000 individuals across the globe.
“The future of mobility is created within a complex and highly dynamic ecosystem of established transportation companies, Big Tech firms, and an explosion of startups. Governments are also actively rewriting the legal and regulatory frameworks for mobility,” says John Moavenzadeh, executive director of the MIT Mobility Initiative. Moavenzadeh led the design of the MMI Mobility Vision Day last November, which convened more than 130 leaders, including over 40 C-suite business executives, to address multiple dimensions of the mobility system.
“The MMI recognizes the importance of engaging with the business and government leaders who are ‘on the front lines’ of the mobility revolution,” says Moavenzadeh.