10:30 am-11:30 am
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CSE Room #122
Computer Science and Engineering Building
Gainesville, fl 32606


Dr. Michele Simoni
Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant
Civil Engineering
University of Texas at Austin

The Urban Freight Distribution Challenge: Developing Advanced Traffic Modeling and Optimization Tools for Efficient and Sustainable Solutions

Abstract: The urban population growth, the rise of e-commerce, and the increased need for economically and environmentally sustainable solutions are critical challenges to tackle the externalities of freight transportation. During the last decade, technology improvements in wireless communication, and computational and sensing technologies have paved the way to a series of mobility and transportation options (e.g. shared mobility services, driverless vehicles) that could transform the landscape of last-mile delivery. In order to identify efficient and sustainable solutions, it is crucial to develop and employ appropriate modeling and optimization tools. For example, computationally efficient methods for traffic models and simulations could be advanced to investigate and enhance urban freight operations. Furthermore, new optimization models could be implemented to tackle the last-mile delivery problems by means of alternative delivery frameworks based on sustainable transportation modes and automated vehicles.

This talk first focuses on the investigation of novel approaches for modeling of freight movements at single road and urban network level. The representation of traffic flows in presence of trucks (also called moving bottlenecks) is complex, since they both influence and are influenced by surrounding traffic. For this purpose, advanced semi-analytic algorithms are proposed to achieve efficient and accurate simulations. The adopted framework has a hybrid nature in that traffic phenomena are reproduced macroscopically and, at the same time, delivery vehicles are microscopically tracked along their routes. Thanks to these features, the simulations can be employed in traffic optimization and policy evaluation of large scenarios. For example, the potential impacts on congestion and pollution of alternative crowdsourced delivery services (crowdshipping) could be investigated from a network perspective.

This work connects with broader research on optimization approaches for City Logistics solutions presented in the second part of the talk. A recent study of potential freight distribution solutions for a mail delivery service is presented. The analyses are based on a novel optimization model for the multi- depot vehicle routing problem with heterogeneous vehicle fleet for urban consolidation centers (UCCs). To conclude, on-going research on the design of robot-assisted parcel delivery services is presented. A metaheuristic approach for efficient joint delivery routes of trucks and robots, and some preliminary results are discussed.

Biography: Dr. Simoni’s research interests include transportation modeling, urban freight distribution and traffic flow theory. He has conducted research at the University of Texas, Austin, and at the Delft University of Technology related to modeling and simulation of different transportation problems, with a particular focus on traffic congestion. His dissertation is on traffic and logistics, and its main
contribution consists of developing modeling approaches and simulation tools, and employing them for the evaluation and optimization of novel urban freight distribution practices and technologies.