Meet us at TRB 2019

Our research group’s research will be presented at the 98th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC, January 13-17, 2019 in the following sessions:

Hands-On Workshop for Virtual Reality in Stated Response Research

Sunday, January 13, 2019, 1:30 PM-4:30 PM, Convention Center

Zachary Patterson, Concordia University, presiding, Michael van Eggermond

Sponsored by Standing Committee on Travel Survey Methods; Standing Committee on Urban Transportation Data and Information Systems; and Standing Committee on Traveler Behavior and Values

A main challenge of the use of virtual reality (VR) in stated response surveys is actually putting together a VR environment. After short presentations on recent VR surveys, attendees will learn how to set up a basic virtual environment for stated response survey applications with the soon-to-be open-source Virtual Immersive Reality Environment platform developed by Bilal Farooq of Ryerson University. Other VR platforms also will be sought for inclusion in the workshop.

Processing cycling risk under different elicitation methods: comparing 2D and 3D in virtual reality choice environments

Martyna Bogacz, Chiara Calastri, Charisma Choudhury, Stephane Hess, Alex Erath, Michael Van Eggermond, Faisal Mushtaq

Collecting and Analyzing Pedestrian and Bicyclist Data, January 14, Monday 10:15 AM- 12:00 PM, Hall A / Convention Center

The aim of this study is to provide a better understanding of cyclists’ risk perception in different scenarios under different elicitation methods. In particular, 2D computer-based videos and 3D virtual reality simulations of road situations are contrasted. We collect data on cyclists’ behavioural responses in risky conditions and their stated responses on propensity to cycle and risk perception. Electroencephalography (EEG) is used to gain insight into the temporal sequence of cortical risk processing, which gives a better understanding of neural mechanisms underlying choices. In addition, this study provides the validation of virtual reality as a tool for risk preference elicitation. Our results are in line with expectations: they show behavioural responses in line with the stimuli of the scenarios and an effect of the elicitation method, e.g. the perception of the riskiest elements seem to be exacerbated in 3D. Overall, we show that the 3D presentation method has an impact on the neural processing of risk and not only it changes the way people perceive risk but also their behaviour. The findings provide useful insights about data collection in the context of cycling behaviour and beyond.

Operator and User Perspectives on Fleet Mix, Parking Strategy and Drop-Off Bay Size for Autonomous Transit on Demand

Biyu Wang, Sergio Arturo Ordonez Medina, Pieter Jacobus Fourie
Parking Potpourri, Monday, January 14, 1:30 PM- 3:15 PM, Hall A / Convention Center

Autonomous vehicles (AVs), but in particular shared autonomous transit on demand (ATOD), promises many efficiencies in future transport provision, and may lead to concomitant changes in urban form. Considering the effects of car-oriented planning on the livability, efficiency and sustainability of 20th century cities, there is growing interest in how we may anticipate the changes that this disruption will bring about. Parking and pick-up drop-off infrastructures are some of the several aspects which may change travel behaviour in the upcoming era of AVs. In the paper, three different parking strategies as well as four types of pick-up drop-off infrastructures are simulated to assess their influence in users and operators. The studied parking strategies include demand-based roaming, parking on the street and parking in depots. The four types of pick-up drop-off interfaces are infinity bay, demand-based bay, curbside and single vehicle. The proposed fleet include 3 vehicle sizes: 4-, 10- and 20-seaters for sharing mobility, and 1-seaters for private mobility. Combinations of different parking strategies and different pick-up drop-off infrastructures were evaluated from the perspective of travel time, walk distance, vehicle occupancy, rejected requests and vehicle kilometers traveled. Results show that strategies produce radically different utilization of vehicles to provide the same minimum service level for a particular study area in Singapore. We conclude that urban designers and policy-makers need to consider these as important parameters when designing or retrofitting neighborhoods if they want to maximize potential benefits from this new transportation mode.

Studying Cyclists’ Behavior in a Non-naturalistic Experiment Utilizing Cycling Simulator with Immersive Virtual Reality

Transportation Issues and Solutions in Major Cities, Wednesday, January 16, 2019 2:30PM 4:00PM, Hall A / Convention Center

Mohsen Nazemi, Michael van Eggermond, Alex Erath, Kay W. Axhausen

This study investigates the combination immersive virtual reality (VR) and an instrumented cycling simulator for in-depth behavioral studies of cyclists. To this end, a cycling simulator was developed, virtual environments resembling Singapore were created, combined with the output of a traffic microsimulation. This set-up was created with the specific objective of evaluating the effects environment properties and road infrastructure designs on cyclists’ perceived safety. Forty participants, mainly university students, were recruited for the experiment. Results showed that the average speed of the participants changes between scenes with different bicycle facilities, with the highest value for the segregated bicycle path. The braking and head movement activities also changed within each scene, where they significantly occurred more before arriving at the intersections. Questionnaire results revealed adding a painted bicycle path to a sidewalk increases the level of perceived safety. Moreover, participants felt safest for cycling on the segregated bicycle path, in line with findings from previous research. This study provides evidence that cyclists’ behavior and perceptions in VR is very similar to reality and that VR, combined with a cycling simulator, is suitable to communicate (future) cycling facilities.

Bike to the Future in Leeds and Delft

On two occasions in May 2017 we had the opportunity to present our ongoing work on cycling and virtual reality. Alex Erath was invited to the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds and presented Bike to the Future (slides here). Me and Alex presented our previous and current work on Bike to Future for the Allegro research group (slides here). The Allegro project covers five years of research with a group of approximately of 10 people under the lead of prof. Serge Hoogendoorn, and is collaboration between the Delft University of Technology and the AMS Institute. The group aims to develop new theories and models for the behaviour of pedestrians and cyclists in cities, using state-of-the-art data collection techniques. At both occasions, it was great to discuss the challenges involving the surveying and modelling of cyclists’ preferences and behaviour.

Presentation in Delft - Immersing yourself in SIngapore!
Presentation in Delft – Immersing yourself in Singapore!

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Agent based modeling conference in Sao Paulo

I had the opportunity to participate in the AAMAS conference. The acronym means Antonomous Agents and Multiagent Sytems. Participants from everywhere in the world came to the World Trade Center complex in Sao Paulo.


The first day I joined the workshop on Agent Based Modelling for Urban Systems ABMUS 2017. I also presented my work in this workshop, an article called “Scheduling weekly flexible activities in a large-scale multi-agent mobility simulator”. I described the challenges of multi-day activity demand modeling, my approach categorizing activities into fixed or flexible, the algorithm to schedule flexible activities during free time windows, and the results applying these methods to a weekly mobility simulation of Singapore.


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The fruits of this year’s TRB submission frenzy

Every year, on 2nd August many transport researchers from around the work feel utterly relieved after they successfully submitted their papers for presentation at the Annual Meeting of Transportation Research Board. The meeting, which actually is the by far biggest conference in our field takes place every year in Washington D.C. in January of the following year.

Sometimes I ask myself what’s to point of going to conference in an age where researchers are not even present one but often even several social networks that are purely dedicated to scientists and constant bombardment of Tweets, Facebook updates and new blogposts ;-).

But being at TRB is always special to me. Not only it is great to catch up with colleagues in persons to informally exchange and spin new ideas, there are also always those chance acquaintanceships that make personal and research life so much richer. And checking out the mood of a city just before a new president (blonde for sure, but hopefully not male) is inaugurated is also always special.

Enough small talk, here come in an exclusive sneak peek the three submissions from people related to the Engaging Mobility group at the Future Cities Laboratory of the Singapore ETH Centre. My great co-authors and are looking forward to hopefully positive constructive points for critique from the reviewers, but also are curious on your comments!

Visualizing Transport Futures: the potential of integrating procedural 3d modelling and traffic micro-simulation in Virtual Reality applications

In this paper we elaborate on potential use cases of Virtual Reality (VR) in transportation research and planning and present how we integrated procedural 3D modelling and traffic micro-simulation with the rendering capabilities of a game engine in a semi-automated pipeline.
Through a review of potential practical applications, we present how this pipeline will be employed to distil behavioural evidence that can guide planners through dilemmas when designing future cycling infrastructure. At the same time, we are studying efficacy of VR as a method for assessing perceptual behaviour as opposed to traditional methods of visualization. Concretely, we present how the pipeline can be adapted i) to generate parameterised visualisations for stated preference surveys, ii) as a platform for a cycling simulator and iii) to communicate different design scenarios for stakeholder engagement. The flexibility of procedural programming allows discretionary changes to the street design and the traffic parameters. Through this experience of developing procedural models, traffic microsimulations and ultimately VR models for streets in Singapore, we find that visual and temporal feedback enabled by VR makes several important design parameters observable and allows researchers to conduct new types of behavioural surveys to understand how people will respond to different design options. In addition, we conclude that such VR applications open new avenues for citizen engagement and communication of urban plans to stakeholders.

Virtual Reality software pipeline to integrate CityEngine and Vissim output in Unity3d
Virtual Reality software pipeline to integrate CityEngine and Vissim output in Unity3d

Introducing the Pedestrian Accessibility Tool (PAT): open source GIS-based walkability analysis

The indices for walkability proposed so far are mostly ad-hoc and refer generally to the closest amenities/public transport stops and the existing network structure. They are ad-hoc as the weights of the attributes are generally arbitrary and do not reflect the independently measured preferences of the users and residents. Furthermore, they do not include design attributes such as the location of crossings and walkway design features, which are very relevant for actual planning decisions.

In this paper, we propose a walkability index that can be behaviorally calibrated and has been implemented as a GIS tool and is published as Open Source software. The Pedestrian Accessibility Tool allows evaluating existing and future urban plans with regards to walkability. It calculates Hansen-based accessibility indicators based on customizable specification of generalized walking cost and user-defined weights of destination attractiveness.

Comparison of walksheds with Pedestrian Accessibility Tool: impact of replacing a pedestrian overhead bridge with a conventional zebra crossing.
Comparison of walksheds with Pedestrian Accessibility Tool: impact of replacing a pedestrian overhead bridge with a conventional zebra crossing. Click the image to start the animation!

Simulation of autonomous taxis in a multi-modal traffic scenario with dynamic demand

Given the rapid technological advances in developing autonomous vehicles (AV), the key question appears not so much anymore how, but when AVs would be ready to be commercially introduced. Therefore, it is very timely to explore how the new way of travelling will shape the traffic environment in the future. Questions regarding the environmental impact, changes in infrastructure and policy measures are widely discussed. Most likely, the introduction of AVs will not only add an option to the traveller’s choice of means of transport, but also shape how people interact with the traffic environment. From a transport planning point of view, key questions concerning the introduction of AVs as a new means of transport are how it will influence travel behaviour, how supply and demand for AV will balance, how it impacts the viability of existing public transport services and how AVs will impact congestion and demand for parking.
In this report, a new simulation framework based on MATSim is presented, allowing for the simulation of AVs in an integrated, network- and population-based traffic environment. The demand evolves dynamically from the traffic situation rather than being a static constraint as in numerous previous studies. This allows for the testing of various scenarios and concepts around the introduction of AVs while taking into account their feedback on the travellers’ choices and perceptions.
Using a realistic test scenario, it is shown that even under conservative pricing a large share of travellers is attracted by autonomous vehicles, though it is highly dependend on the provided fleet size. For sufficiently large supplies it has been found that for the autonomous single-passenger taxis in this report the vehicle miles travelled increase up to 60%.

Share of the available travel modes in a percentage of the total number of trips, dependent on the number of available AVs.
Share of the available travel modes in a percentage of the total number of
trips, dependent on the number of available AVs.