Transportation systems: reducing emissions and energy consumption
01.11.07 - Where are you going today ? Most likely to work or school, maybe to the grocery store or a meeting in another country ; you might go out, to dinner, a concert or a movie. We're a society in motion, and with humanity's carbon budget way out of balance, the simple question of how to get where you're going has become important like never before. Professor Michel Bierlaire is convinced that the science of mobility will generate new paradigms for transportation systems. For society to be sustainable, all the negative consequences of human activities, particularly the mobility of people and goods, will have to decrease substantially.
Bierlaire is a proponent of demand-driven transportation systems, in which self-organizing forces will dramatically change patterns of energy consumption and emissions. He envisions a " zero-delay " society, one in which reliability is the primary target of transportation systems, instead of efficiency. He argues that this will end up being more efficient in the long run, satisfying the mobility needs of travelers while at the same time reducing negative impacts on the environment. In his Transport & Mobility Laboratory at EPFL, Bierlaire and his students and colleagues are working on the nuts and bolts of this vision. Operations research projects develop advanced optimization tools used for simulating applications like congestion-on the freeway, or the flow of human traffic in buildings.
He also studies behavior using discrete choice models, a domain in which his expertise is internationally recognized. This is the science of quantitatively reconstructing a series of qualitative decisions, for example a trajectory-the choice of routes, tollbooths, public transport system. The laboratory focuses on putting these research areas together, modeling transportation systems by integrating operations research tools and discrete choice models. The researchers can then study mobility schemes, looking at points of congestion and modifying access conditions-all for traffic and community scenarios that don't even exist yet. It's a way to see into the future, and it's vastly important in land use planning. To make that connection, these studies are done in collaboration with other labs in ENAC.