Transport research environment with novel perspectives - TRENoP
Increasing environmental, climate, and natural resources concerns, coupled with increasing demand for transport puts pressure for improved efficiency and performance on transport systems. In identifying solutions, environmental, energy, and global climate issues have to be considered, in balance with the economic and societal benefits of transport. Technology may be an enabler for new innovation, but it is the policy for deployment with a systems perspective that often determines success.
The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in partnership with Linköping University (LiU) and the Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) form the Transport Research Environment with Novel Perspectives (TRENoP) to address these global issues. The vision for TRENoP is to enable the transformation of the transport system of today into a greener, smarter and safer system through the integration of policy and technology with a systems perspective.
The premise of TRENoP is that research integrating technology, policy, and systems approaches has the potential to lead to successful innovations towards an energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and safe transport system that meets the mobility needs of industry and society. The research agenda will focus, at least initially, on surface transport, an area where even small improvements can have large payoffs).
TRENoP will provide a stable environment that will attract and retain qualified faculty and foster their development through a number of activities and initiatives which also serve broader objectives of interacting with industry and society. These initiatives include:
- A high level Transport Policy Think Tank that will facilitate the development of long term transport policy.
- Thematic Networks, workshops and executive seminars that serve to promote interaction, and the identification of new opportunities, trends, and issues and turning them into research problems and solutions in collaboration with industry and key stakeholders.
- Seed funding for pursuing high risk, high reward ideas at the interface of policy, technology, and systems that will contribute to the solution of the important global issues associated with transport.
- Promoting the Centres of Excellence, CTS and the Centre for ECO2 Vehicle Design to international prominence.
- Providing educational and outreach activities necessary to train the new generation of transport professionals needed to address transportation problems at a high level and help maintain international competence for Swedish companies.
TRENoP’s mission is to:
- support basic and applied, multidisciplinary, multimodal research that advances the state-of- the-art and state-of-practice in the design, evaluation, operations, and management of transport systems and facilities;
- assume a leadership position in influencing the development of policy and technologybased solutions to related problems;
- develop extensive interactions with industry and organizations in jointly defining current and future important problems and developing solutions;
- educate transport students, researchers, and practitioners to develop socially responsible, environmentally conscious, and sustainable solutions to transportation problems; and assume leadership positions in the transport industry;
- promote international collaboration and exchange on problems of mutual interest. TRENoP’s strength lies in combining cutting-edge technology research with systems and policy analysis to evaluate impacts, investigate viability, and expedite implementation.
TRENoP will serve as the incubator for joint policy, technology, and systems based solutions for greener, smarter, safer transport. It will focus resources at KTH, LiU, and VTI on forward looking research, where innovative technologies, policies, systems and operational concepts are put into a system-analytic framework which also encompasses implementation paths and institutional frameworks. A cornerstone is the realization that even though technological advances may hold promise, development of sustainable transport systems is too complex of a problem and requires the synergy of a number of disciplines.
Developing leading-edge research in transport
The TRENoP strategy is to build an environment that will foster interdisciplinary, basic and applied research to address global issues within the research areas. The building blocks are research and interaction. The research block will facilitate and support research in promising directions through faculty renewal and funding, and the interaction platform will support interactions among faculty and interactions with the society and industry.
An important element of TRENoP’s strategy is the creation of an international Transport Think Tank as a high level policy instrument. The Think Tank will consist of top executives, policy makers, politicians, and transport visionaries.
Through annual meetings and continuous work, the Think Tank will debate important issues and overall needs for addressing them.
Closely related to the work of the Think Tank are Thematic Networks. The Thematic Networks are interaction networks of communities of researchers from different disciplines and key stakeholders interacting to address a given problem from a multidisciplinary point of view. The Think Tank develops visions and formulates high level policy, while the Thematic Networks contribute towards making the vision operational. An important function of the thematic networks is advance scouting for new technology with potentially high payoff and the formulation of strategies for lateral migration into transport applications (e.g. Developments in ICT, new sensors, materials, etc.).
TRENoP also recognizes that the global transport problems are very complex and require extensive collaboration at the international level with other Universities.
The research identifies Innovation, Intelligent Decision Support (for evaluation, management), and Implementation Paths (to facilitate and expedite implementation of promising ideas) as important research activities for achieving the transformation to sustainable transport systems. The research in these areas will combine the traditional element of researchers working on individual pieces of the overall problem, advancing the state of the art in their particular area, and an integrative component. This integration will be facilitated by joint work on Cases, analogous to the cases published by the Harvard Business School that have become an important activity of its faculty and an essential teaching instrument worldwide. The Cases are also part of the Interaction block as, along with workshops and thematic networks, will facilitate the interaction with important stakeholders, involvement of PhD students, and help the eventual deployment of the ideas.
The research agenda addresses the most important societal issues of an energy efficient, and environmentally friendly transport system.
The initial focus of the research will be in the area of surface transport. Surface transport is at the heart of many KTH/LiU/VTI activities. Furthermore, even marginal improvements in surface transport can have significant benefits, since road vehicles dominate transport energy consumption (74% in Europe), urbanization and demand for personal mobility will increase congestion even more, and changing demographics (immigrants, aging population, etc) will put more emphasis on servicing daily mobility needs. Similarly, transport safety concerns are more heavily concentrated on road accidents (where equity issues among modes are also an issue).
The transformation of the current surface transport system into a sustainable one, meeting the energy and environmental targets set by various governments and other bodies worldwide, requires contributions from a wide range of disciplines.
As such, the research agenda will focus on:
- Development of innovative transport concepts based on advances in: new policy instruments and institutional and organizational structures, vehicle technology, infrastructure technology, information and communication technology
- Development of methods for intelligent decision support at all levels of decision making, i.e strategic, tactical, operational: fundamental methods, models, and algorithms for more efficient design, monitoring, and control of transport services, both emerging, and traditional, strategic, long term evaluation of transport systems and services, through integrated transport models.
- Investigation of the implementation issues related to the eventual deployment of proposed solutions from policy, institutional, and acceptability points of view. The research will be well aligned with EU and national priorities.
The research is multimodal, multiscale, and multidisciplinary:
- Multimodal, covering traffic systems, public transport and rail systems, and logistics and their synergistic operations.
- Multiscale, spanning from the microscale to macroscale, e.g. from the single vehicles to the entire transport system, from real time control to long term planning, and from urban, to regional, to national.
- Multidisciplinary, integrating various disciplines, from vehicle technology, to policy formulation and evaluation.