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TRB War Games In Action: Your Future Mobility is Right-Sized

Thanks Waheed for capturing our Energy Team in action at the inaugural TRB 2018 War Games!

WarGames

Attending #TRB War Game: Energy Team focus on #Energy Efficient Personal Mobility.#TRBAM @NASEMTRB pic.twitter.com/PaoDuVL9A1

— Dr. Waheed Uddin (@drwaheeduddin) January 7, 2018

I am happy to report that this simulated exercise/competition certainly got me, and I believe the rest of the room, "out of the box" and beyond our usual thinking. My favorite part was considering the behavioral and energy implications of a future in which individuals are able to more efficienctly match personal mobility options to needs, including the potential for automated "right-sized" personal vehicles. Right now consumers end up buying vehicles to address their maximum needs (think: towing a horse trailer or taking six kids plus equipment to hockey practice), but end up employing that significant and energy consumptive excess capacity on more frequent but less demanding trips (e.g. driving along to and from work every day). Our team asked: if one of the future promises of automation is the ability to have a broader range of vehicle options on demand, is that something people will take advantage of? Would knowledge about energy efficiency affect those choices? How might someone set up a pilot to study these types of decisions even before we get to automation, for example through collaboration with TNCs who already offer some variety of mobility options on demand?

These were just some of the questions raised at the workshop. Some other interesting ones:

  • How might technology continue to shape and improve last-mile freight delivery?
  • What might we learn from utilities about mobility provision?
  • How can emerging revenue generations mechanisms like user fees adapt to automation or other technological advances in vehicles to try to achieve socially optimal outcomes?

If your brain hurts a little, don't worry, ours did too! But we also had a lot of fun, and hopefully sparked some new thinking in the process.

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