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Department of Energy Using Supercomputers to Address Transportation Challenges 

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by Aaron Mack in Uncategorized
January 24, 2018

Now that supercomputers have revealed that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42, the US Department of Energy is unleashing the power 32 of the world’s fastest to research a somewhat more down-to-earth application: transportation.

The DOE this month launched two initiatives—High Performance Computing for Mobility and Big Data Solutions for Mobility—stemming from its Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO). The initiatives will harness top-notch computing power to study and model real-world transportation scenarios, in an effort to optimize energy usage and efficiency within transportation networks. The effort stems from VTO’s Energy Efficient Mobility Systems Program.

The initiative will see cutting-edge analysis methods applied to “big data” collected in urban transportation environments in near real-time. Data will be collected at the vehicle, traveler and systems levels. The DOE hopes that generating new computer models using large, complex datasets will help researchers develop advanced approaches to address factors like energy usage, congestion, accident response and weather management.

Partners involved include researchers from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest, Argonne and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, as well as stakeholders from academia and industry.

In an early pilot, Lawrence Berkley will work with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study the energy impact of autonomous vehicles, as well as the hour-by-hour impact of ride-hailing services on traffic congestion. In another pilot, Oak Ridge will team up with Gridsmart Technologies—an intersection management systems developer—to learn more about how to tailor learning-based traffic control systems to optimize energy usage and traffic efficiency.

Transportation research using artificial intelligence and computing power in general has been making headlines lately; for example, researchers at Atlanta’s Kennesaw State University are using AI to study collision-prone intersections in Georgia. Could it be that we’re entering a new era in transportation research? One where big data and advanced computing lead to new, unprecedented breakthroughs in safety and efficiency? The answer, of course, is 36.

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