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Posted on Jun 11, 2015

Mobility on Demand – Future of Transportation in Cities

Mobility on Demand – Future of Transportation in Cities

Read full report on MIT.

Mobility-on-demand systems provide stacks and racks of light electric vehicles or bicycles at closely spaced intervals throughout a city. When you want to go somewhere, you simply walk to the nearest rack, swipe a card to pick up a vehicle, drive it to the rack nearest to your destination, and drop it off.

Users of mobility-on-demand systems have the convenience and comfort of private automobiles without the associated high cost, insurance requirements, need to refuel, service and repair demands, or parking problems.

Key factors in the success of mobilityon-demand systems are the costs to users and the system latencies – that is the times needed to walk from a trip origin to a nearby stack and pick up a vehicle, to travel to a stack near the desired destination, and to drop off a vehicle and walk to the actual destination. Well-designed and well-managed mobility-on-demand systems should be able to provide more attractive combinations of costs and latencies than alternative systems such as private automobiles, taxis, and transit systems.

Management is accomplished through an innovative combination of:
1. Realtime, fine-grained mobility demand sensing;
2. active realtime management to balance vehicle (and parking space) supply and demand and meet latency targets at sustainable cost; and
3. sophisticated use of dynamic pricing for demand management. The mathematical model used for management represents the system as a network of stacks and links, with queues (maybe zero-length) of users waiting to access vehicles and of vehicles waiting to access parking spaces at stacks, and dynamically varying latencies and prices on stacks and links.

Since mobility-on-demand systems employ lightweight electric or humanpowered vehicles, they are energyefficient, carbon-minimal, and silent. They are compact, and they have very high utilization rates, so they minimize urban traffic congestion and parking space requirements. Thus the essential parts of mobilityon-demand systems, as described in more detail below, are:
1. Specially designed vehicles;
2. Vehicle stacks and racks distributed throughout the service area;
3. ICT infrastructure for sensing and control;
4. Demand sensing and network management software;
5. Innovative electrical supply systems that utilize clean, renewable power sources and minimize transmission losses.

These elements work in combination to provide the benefits.