Monthly Archives: September 2014

Flexible decision making under uncertainty for intelligent mobility on-demand

Rigby, M. and Winter, S. Flexible decision making under uncertainty for intelligent mobility on-demand, Workshop on Visually-Supported Reasoning with Uncertainty, GIScience, Vienna, Austria, September 2014.


Interacting with dynamic ride sharing systems for ad-hoc travel is a complex spatio-temporal task. The uncertainty of service supply and demand in this constrained arena challenges the rigidity of traditional human-computer interfaces. Without knowledge of service potential or the effect of their own limiting constraints, clients may simply not find any matching ride. Previous work on an intuitive interface concept, launch pads, resolves this issue by providing clients with visual feedback during a novel 2-step negotiation. Whilst computationally valid, human understanding of the launch pad metaphor and its interaction design still has to be assessed to close the system’s feedback loop. For this purpose usability testing of launch pads is proposed in a directed wayfinding scenario. Results of testing will allow tuning of the system towards validation of the proposed visualization.

An extended demand responsive connector

Lee, A., M. Savelsbergh (2014), An extended demand responsive connector. EURO Journal on Transportation and Logistics,

The need for viable public transit systems has been well documented and so has the role that so-called flexible transport systems can play. Flexible transport services offer great potential for increases in mobility and convenience and decreases in travel times and operating costs. One such service is the demand responsive connector, which transports commuters from residential addresses to transit hubs via a shuttle service, from where they continue their journey via a traditional timetabled service. To access this service, commuter and service provider agree on an earliest time the commuter must be available for collection and a latest time the commuter will arrive at a transit station. We investigate various options for implementing a demand responsive connector and the associated vehicle-scheduling problems. Previous work has only considered regional systems, where vehicles drop passengers off at a predetermined station; one of our contributions is to relax that restriction and investigate the benefits of allowing alternative transit stations. An extensive computational study shows that the more flexible system offers cost advantages over regional systems, especially when transit services are frequent, or transit hubs are close together, with little impact on passenger convenience.

#infrahack 2014

On 28 and 29 August 2014, Nicole Ronald participated in a NICTA-hosted infrastructure hackathon organised as part of the Australia 3.0 initiative. From our point of view, the main aims of participating were to understand more about how hackathons work and how we can encourage spatial and transport students to get involved, as well as having the opportunity to present some of our research to a different audience.

Nicole took the opportunity to work with the newly released Uber API, which permits real-time access to Uber data, and to test out a visualisation of launchpads, based on Michael Rigby’s PhD research. While Michael’s research focuses on ridesharing, where privacy is a major issue, Nicole identified convenience (shorter travel times, cheaper trips) and health (a door-to-door travel culture leads to less walking) as potential reasons why spatial flexibility is useful in the context of single-passenger taxis. As a one-person team, this provided a self-contained project that produced some early results: the diagram below showed that, when starting at the train station, walking a short distance could lead to being picked up quicker and a quicker ride. We intend to turn the static mockups into a live demo in the near future.

The winning team consisted of PhD students from our research partners in Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne and a Monash student co-supervised by Mark Wallace, an iMoD investigator. They will be mentored to further develop their product and also received two return flights to Silicon Valley.

For more information about the hackathon, please visit