Category Archives: News

New research fellow

Discussions at the 2015 iMoD workshop.

Steve Roddis

Stephen Roddis recently started his Research Fellow position, working on the FMS Victoria project. This project is jointly funded through a Carlton Connect Initiative grant and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), and will contribute fine-grained transport demand data for our investigation of the feasibility of demand-responsive transport. For the last 11 years Stephen has worked on a wide range of transport policy and research projects within the Victorian Government, including management of the Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity (VISTA). He will now bring his expertise to the Mobility Survey Victoria project, focusing on the data analysis aspects of the smartphone-based travel survey.

Mobility Survey Victoria kick-off workshop

On 27 July, we have held a workshop to kick-off the Mobility Survey Victoria project, which is supported by Carlton Connect Initiative Funds. The meeting gathered the chief investigators involved with the project partners to discuss: administrative item, such as commitment to timelines/schedule; potential research outcomes; and the next steps. SMART (Singapore) team joined the meeting via Skype.

Several outcomes of the meeting: the survey is to go live from 1 October to 30 November, following at least a month of internal testing; many potential research directions, including study on households, travel happiness, comparison study of mobility patterns, and data analysis/comparison.

Urban Mobility and Intelligent Transport workshop

This workshop was held on 25 June 2015, bringing together experts from universities in Victoria (University of Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, Swinburne, and La Trobe) and IBM research; sponsored by CCI, MNSI, and MSSI. We discussed the potential of IT for providing smart forms of transport in Victoria in the future (“Urban Mobility and Intelligent Transport”). These experts from various fields (including real-time data mining, machine learning, multi-modal travel planning, behavioural study) agreed to work on an initiative on smart connected transport in Victoria. If you/your organisation would like to join this discussion, please contact us.

2015 iMoD workshop, 20 Feb 2015

On Friday 20 February 2015, the third annual iMoD workshop took place at the University of Melbourne.

Discussions at the 2015 iMoD workshop.

Discussions at the 2015 iMoD workshop.

This year, we have several research students working on the iMoD project, so we had a range of in-depth 20 minute presentations to 5 minute lightning presentations from those who have recently joined the project.

Our subprojects range from comparing simulation tools, simulation of DRT services and feeder buses, understanding mobility from GPS traces, simulating shared passenger/freight services, and providing information for decision making about rideshare options. We also provided updates on our engagement activities (including events such as #infrahack and Melbourne Knowledge Week) and travels (to conferences such as TRB, ITSC, and GIScience). The updates and feedback from industry partners was also very useful.

Over the next year, we will focus on bringing together all these strands, focusing on demand generation for DRT and developing decision support tools to assist decision makers in implementing DRT services in Victoria and elsewhere.

GIES Research Conference 2014

IMG_1690Our current iMoD research students are members of the Graduate Infrastructure Engineering Society (GIES) at the University of Melbourne. Each year GIES organises a conference at which the majority of the 130 research students in the department present their work and produce a poster (students who started recently are exempt). Academic staff members, including Stephan Winter and Nicole Ronald, chair sessions and provide feedback to students.

iMoD presented four presentations during the day: Michael Rigby, Rahul Deb Das and Haifeng Zhao presented in 10 minute slots, while Shubham Jain, as a new student, gave a three minute overview of his planned research. On the day, he was awarded a best presentation prize, based on ratings from both academic staff and research students. Prior to the event, Shubham Jain participated in the Second Slide competition.

We look forward to returning next year with more presentations!

Click for Michael's full poster.

Click for Michael’s full poster.

Click for Rahul's full poster.

Click for Rahul’s full poster.

iMoD at Melbourne Knowledge Week: TransportCamp

As part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, the iMoD team went to the first TransportCamp in Australia. Ably organised by local transport planners, the day took on an unconference format with 30 minute sessions.

Nicole Ronald led a session on (non-)ideal conditions for flexible transportation, aiming to get an idea of where flexible transport might and mightn’t work in a Melbourne context. Session participants were provided with sample activity-travel plans as a prompt. Discussions included passenger perception of flexible transportation and certain activity-travel plans being too complex to get rid of one’s car.

We plan to use the ideas raised to inform data collection, interviews and further model development in the near future.

iMoD at Melbourne Knowledge Week: Vic International Research Scholarships Knowledge Exchange

(c) Mark Avellino

(c) Mark Avellino

As a Victoria-India Doctoral Scholarship (VIDS) recipient, Rahul Deb Das was invited to present his research as part of the Victorian International Research Scholarships Knowledge Exchange event during Melbourne Knowledge Week 2014. This event was hosted by Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Leonie Walsh, and organised by the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation, who administer VIDS in conjunction with the Australia India Institute.

(c) Mark Avellino

(c) Mark Avellino

Rahul started his talk with the notion of liveable cities and showed how his research is relevant to improve the quality of liveability of Melbourne and beyond. His research on how smartphone-based travel surveys can help urban planners by providing rich and timely information on urban dynamics for modelling travel demand at different granularities has the potential to improve urban mobility, safety, and various context-aware location-based services.

#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

Simulating DRT: Sim-VIC presentation, June 2014

On Friday 13 June 2014, Dr Nicole Ronald gave a presentation on simulating DRT to the Sim-VIC research community at RMIT. This community consists of researchers working in simulation, mostly coming from agent-based simulation.

Nicole spoke about three models of DRT that have been built as part of the iMoD project: the original Delphi prototype, the SUMO-based model SUMOoD, and a model currently in development based on MATSim. The aim of this work was to explore the capabilities and limitations of existing software and identify the potential of various tools that can be used for modelling DRT.

All three models have been set up with a basic DRT scheme which optimises only single trip, “travel now” requests by minimising passenger travel time. No other transport modes were included, to ensure comparison between models; the Delphi prototype models DRT only.

Traffic microsimulation software is useful for evaluating door-to-door DRT in small regions, however more work is needed in predicting travel speeds for routing. MATSim has proved useful for larger areas, however this model currently does not make use of iterations (that is, no scoring and replanning occurs). Models of DRT in isolation are useful to get a quick overview of coverage and operation, however provide no indication of interaction with other modes of transport, and depending on the richness of the transport network representation and routing algorithms, could provide overly optimistic results.

Future work includes generalising the models to handle different optimisation algorithms and DRT schemes and beginning to explore different locations, as well as continuing our work on estimating demand. The iMoD project is grateful to Sim-VIC for the opportunity to present work-in-progress.