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NREL Leads Effort to Get Traffic Moving in Right Direction

Aug. 26, 2015

A blue graphic of a hand holding a smartphone connected by yellow dots to the graphics of people and public transportation.

Connected Traveler project will guide travelers in energy-efficient manner

In the near future, travelers will be able to figure out the most efficient way to travel through a city, including the optimal routes, what public transit is available, or if carpooling is an option—all through a smartphone app.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently announced it will serve as the lead organization in the Connected Traveler project, which will develop the new smartphone tool. Real-time information delivered via the user's smartphone would give the traveler recommendations to save energy such as changing departure time or route, taking mass transit, or even considering an alternate destination.

The tool's recommendations will also help to reduce traffic congestion, which ultimately reduces gasoline consumption. According to an analysis by the Texas Transportation Institute, traffic congestion in 498 U.S. metropolitan areas increased gasoline consumption by 2.9 billion gallons in 2011.

"Using real-time traffic and GPS data, along with simulations that take into account demographic information and trips via ride-sharing programs, the Connected Traveler project will move beyond existing transportation studies that look at only roads and drivers," said Alex Schroeder, NREL's Transportation Technology Deployment Manager. "The idea behind the project is that travelers may be willing and able to adjust how they get somewhere if they have current data and are incentivized to act on that information in a way that also delivers energy savings."

The project, which is expected to begin in October, will be funded in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and NREL will be collaborating with several university and industry partners that will provide the rest of the funding.

To learn more, read the full NREL news release.

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