What are the benefits of dynamic ride sharing and autonomous taxis?

A taxi in New York

Let your car drive itself around as a taxi when you are not using it says Tesla's Elon Musk. While Waymo offers taxis without drivers to residents of Phoenix, AZ. Seemingly significant changes to the ways we make journeys are already underway and big business is involved, but what will their impact on our surroundings be? A recent paper uses simulation modeling to investigate.

The technologies under investigation are dynamic ride sharing, such as that offered by UberPool and Didi ExpressPool, and autonomous taxis, such as those run by Waymo and promised by Tesla. Both are clearly the focus of much investment – there is a business case to be made, as car ownership and the number of licensed drivers goes into decline. For the user though, beyond the convenience of these services, we can expect other benefits as well, because these transport strategies promise to reduce both congestion and pollution by increasing vehicle usage.

AnyLogic Simulation Model Overview

AnyLogic Simulation Model Overview
(click to enlarge)

In the paper Dynamic ride sharing using traditional taxis and shared autonomous taxis: A case study of NYC, Mustafa Lokhandwala and Hua Cai, of Purdue University, explore the impact of the two tech-based trends. From the paper it is possible to better understand the separate impacts dynamic ride sharing and autonomous vehicles will have as they become more widely used.

The research is interesting because it considers a system-level solution to pollution, rather than the more common vehicle-level approach. Instead of examining the impact of more efficient vehicles, it looks the impact of more efficient vehicle use – such as is possible with better ride matching algorithms.

Further interest, particularly for simulation modelers, can be found in the agent-based modeling approach for the taxis and riders. The system takes into account individual preferences and allows rider groups to form and join rides already underway.

With cities around the world seeking to tackle congestion and pollution, it is a timely paper. Highlighting the benefits that can be achieved when working at the system level. Read on (intro and PDF) and find out more!


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