Research

City Logistics Operations Design
The need to rethink urban delivery is never more urgent. On the one hand, e-commerce in the US today has reached the size of $300 billion annual sales, five times ten years ago. As a result of the e-commerce growth, urban truck traffic has grown precipitously. The rise of truck traffic has led to many negative consequences to the urban environment: greater congestion, more pollution, faster wear-and-tear of road infrastructure, parking space shortage for trucking, to name just a few. On the other hand, urban delivery has been increasingly pushed by the development of livable urban communities to reduce truck traffic and its negative impacts. Our research in this area seeks innovative solutions to reconcile the two conflicting trends. We are currently exploring new multi-modal system designs that can fulfill the urban delivery in a more efficient, greener, and sustainable way.

 

Multimodal Intercity Transportation Modeling
TransLog Lab has rich experience in intercity transportation research, touching on a variety of issues related to competition among transportation operators and infrastructure capacity utilization. In the past Lab director Dr. Zou was extensively involved in investigating airline and air-rail competition, service pricing and frequency determination, system benefits of aviation infrastructure investment, airport slot control policies, and flight delay cost to the United States, among others. These involvements led to the development of multiple game-theoretic, network equilibrium, optimization, and econometric models for intercity transportation. We are currently investigating novel approaches to modeling network equilibrium in unregulated travel environment.

 

Rail Operation Planning
High performance intercity passenger rail has been gaining its momentum in the United States. However, the development of Higher Speed Rail (HrSR) systems on shared-use passenger and freight rail corridors imposes capacity and other related issues. We have developed a systematic modeling framework to consider the priority scheduling reality in the US rail sector and identify optimal timetables for passenger and freight trains running on the same rail tracks. The framework has been extended to investigating the impact on system performance of train operational characteristics heterogeneity, infrastructure investment strategies to yield maximum overall benefits, and how rail capacity allocation can be made through bargaining among different parties.

 

Infrastructure Asset Management
Infrastructure asset management involves predicting infrastructure deterioration, and scheduling maintenance, rehabilitation,and reconstruction (MR&R) activities that minimize life-cycle costs to the infrastructure agency and users over a time horizon. While planning MR&R actions, their negative impacts in disrupting normal traffic operations also need to be considered. Our current focus in this area is on airport infrastructure assets. Econometric models have been developed to predict the deterioration process of runway pavements at O’Hare International Airport. Current efforts aim at providing quantitative models that can aid capital investment plan development for the Airport.

 

Smart Urban Parking Management in a Cyber-Physical Environment
Recent advances in sensing, information, and communication technologies have brought significant potentials for devising innovative management schemes for urban parking management, in particular by transforming the state-of-the-practice which does not consider driver-specific characteristics and preferences to agent-based parking slot assignment. An important component in this transformation is to ensure truthful information reporting from drivers, which otherwise would deviate the parking slot allocation outcome from the desired system objective. We have developed and demonstrated the implementation of multiple novel mechanisms that align drivers’ selfish behavior with the socially optimal outcome in both static and dynamic settings, which provoke voluntary participation of drivers with truthful information reporting.

 

Sustainable Transportation Design and Evaluation
One of the most important environmental concerns over transportation and logistics activities is their climate change impact. Lab director Dr. Zou has put forward multiple methodologies, both parametric and non-parametric, to assess short- and long-term fuel efficiency of major air carriers in the United States. The developed evaluation framework has been adopted by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) for their airline ranking purposes. We have also collaborated with researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, NASA, and the Universidad Carlos III in Spain to develop integer programming and optimal control models for flight trajectory design while accounting for the associated contrail effects.

 

Port and Maritime Shipping Management
Maritime shipping and logistics play a significant role in the global trade. Lab director Dr. Zou has looked into regional port competition and cooperation, coordination between port business and local city development, greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies in the global maritime shipping sector, and the potential of short sea shipping for reducing CO2 emissions in the California freight corridor. Recent focus in this area has been on investigating the infrastructure supply-demand balance for inter-oceanic maritime services in Central America, due to the expansion of Panama Canal and the construction of the Nicaragua Canal.