Sustainable Mobility System

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Purpose of Research

Establish a comprehensive planning method consisting of (1) information service to support the travel mode choice, (2) new alternative travel mode to private cars, (3) spatial design methods for transportation components, (4) maintaining the functionality and operational efficiency of transportation infrastructure, (5) a mobility-compatible data platform, and (6) Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and public transportation planning to develop a sustainable mobility system that contributes to the achievement of “11. Sustainable cities and communities,” which is one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and work towards their social implementation as new frameworks and businesses by brushing up the methods through proof-of-concept (POC) and demonstration experiments.

Research content / methods

1. Research details

The Research Center for Sustainable Mobility System (hereinafter, “the Research Center”) works on the following research themes, aiming to develop a sustainable transportation system that simultaneously achieves environmental awareness, efficiency, and social inclusion.

(1) An information service system to support the travel mode choice Study the shape of information service to support people’s smart choice of travel modes. Under the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS), integrate multi-modal information and coordinate services for public transportation and non-private travel modes, such as shared mobility (car sharing, ride share, etc.), to reduce the excessive dependency on private cars in city centers and suburban areas.

(2) New alternative travel mode to private cars Study the shape of sustainable alternative travel mode to private cars for metropolitan suburban residential areas where aging and low-density are progressing. In order to achieve a financially sustainable mobility system, build an affordable transportation service designed for anyone as well as a mechanism for the community residents to actively participate in its planning and operations. Additionally, study ways to increase the cost-efficiency through technical collaboration with other fields, such as energy management (e.g. system load frequency control with EV).

(3) Spatial design methods for transportation components Study design methods for the interior spaces of vehicles used for providing the mobility service in (2) above, the transportation nodes, as well as the street for approaching the transportation nodes. Establish a comprehensive design method for the spatial elements that compose the mobility system from the perspective of vehicle interior spaces, waiting spaces, roads and streets that establish mobility system as the service for the community, their installation and functions, and their contribution to the social capital.

(4) Measures to maintain the functionality and operational efficiency of transportation infrastructure As measures to maintain the functionality of roads that are the basis of the mobility service in (2) above, especially the roads managed by municipalities (community roads), into the future, establish a platform for road maintenance management information, enhance data collection and coordination, and build a pavement damage assessment system based on AI. Additionally, study measures to improve or streamline operations of parking facilities that serve as automobile-based mobility service nodes.

(5) Mobility-compatible data platform

Develop a platform specialized in mobility services to store and manage the base map data and app user activity log data for the information service system in (1) above, the supply-side data of the mobility service in (2), the road maintenance management data for (4), and the groups of modules for analyzing and interlinking these data. Additionally, study ways to feed back the data accumulated alongside the advancement of POC for various applications and mobility services to operational improvements of public transportation systems, road maintenance repair plans, etc.

(6) TOD and public transportation planning

In parallel to the empirical efforts in (1) to (5), study planning methods to guide the city itself to a sustainable structure that does not depend excessively on private cars. Based on the concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD), study urban planning around a transportation node like a railroad station, and the shape of public transportation system as a framework of the city based on case studies of advanced cities and analyses of person-trip data.

2. Research method

Research at the Research Center consists of two research phases. In the first phase, the target region of research is narrowed, working on (1) to (5) of 1 to develop and implement services and methods specific to the region.

The Research Center is responsible for vision-making, designing and prototyping services and methods, POC coordination, and analysis of experiment data, while joint research institutions, such as companies and municipalities, are responsible for the development of technical elements that are the basis of the services and the provision of demonstration fields. By repeatedly evolving implementation (POC) while resetting the objectives, the Research Center improves and studies the services and planning methods, while the joint research institutions commercialize services and examine business models. Meanwhile, for 1 (6), the Research Center plays a central role in performing case studies and data analysis of advanced cities.

Joint research institutions are mainly those institutions participating in the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s (JST) Center of Innovation (COI) Program, but as research and development progress, collaboration systems will be developed with new institutions and partnerships will be expanded with the Research Center’s activities serving as the hub. For example, under the framework “large-scale collaborations based on a future vision,” the University and IHI Corporation are considering launching new collaborative research. Some of the research themes proposed for this collaboration are founded on the research schemes from the COI Program mentioned above.

The second phase of the research promotes efforts for the social implementation of planning methods and services that the Research Center created in the first phase. In this phase, the Research Center carries out research to generalize region-specific services and planning methods by commonalizing or standardizing data platform. Research is also carried out for packaging solutions supporting research themes (1) to (6) in 1 (information service, mobility service, spatial design, infrastructure management, and TOD). On the other hand, joint research institutions work on the social implementation of new frameworks and services as their businesses or policies, utilizing the results of the Research Center’s R&D. Companies, as businesses, aim to deliver applications and services based on the results of the Research Center’s research, while governments aim to incorporate such applications, services, and planning methods in their policies. For these efforts, LocaliST Co., Ltd., which was proposed and started by faculty members in the Research Center, will develop a business of a consulting service for the introduction of planning methods regarding 1 (1) to (6), as well as an initial stage development service for applications to drive the social implementation of the Research Center’s R&D results. Additionally, when building business models or examining the standardization of the data platform and so on, activities will be coordinated with the University’s Research Center for Realizing Social Value from an Interdisciplinary Approach.

Commissioned research funds from the COI Program, joint research funds provided from the joint research institutions above, Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the member faculties of the Research Center, and other external funds (research grants from ministries and agencies, private companies, foundations, etc.) are allotted as funds for the R&D above. In the future, the aim is to obtain external funds (such as RISTEX) by producing academic results, as well as to increase and stabilize the total research funds from the joint research institutions (including LocaliST Co., Ltd.) at a given level, and to transition to a sustainable Research Center management system.

Last update:2020/03/18