EAGER: Collaborative Proposal: Towards Dynamic Social Ride-sharing: An Essential Component in Envisioned Smart Communities

Principal Investigator(s):

Alireza Khani, Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

Prior work has demonstrated the potential economic and environmental benefits of ride-sharing; however, ride-sharing has not been adopted by the majority of travelers since previous efforts aimed to maximize the number of participants but failed to take travelers' social attributes into account. One of the major challenges in advocating for ride-sharing is how to reduce social barriers. Taking advantage of advances in information technology and social media for building smart communities, and with emerging social attitudes regarding travel behavior, ride-sharing, along with its social experience, should be considered a viable and possibly dominant mode of transportation in smart communities. This Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) project is addressing the current social barriers to ride-sharing and is providing more appealing ride matches that lead to increased user participation. While a slight compromise in travel time may be tolerated by users in exchange of better social experience, the economy of scale in social ride-sharing would result in better performance of transportation systems in smart cities and communities. The project supports the realization of asocial ride-sharing systems that can serve in validating the long-term research goals of deploying social transportation. The goal of this research is to develop theoretical foundations for supporting social ride-sharing. Users' social attributes and preferences are being jointly determined by two innovative patterns: the spatial-activity pattern and the social-activity pattern. A probabilistic location clustering model is being built to identify abnormal, non-commuting travels for the spatial-activity pattern. This project leverages a key word-search approach and topic recognition to estimate travelers' social activities and travel purposes for the social activity pattern. Novel optimization models for estimation of travel patterns from social media and ride-sharing data are being developed to include the use of state-of-the-art matrix estimation techniques to infer various aspects of travel patterns--such as regular and special patterns (anomalous) trips by type, time of day, day of week, etc. This step is particularly innovative in that these estimation methods are new to the transportation field, and their successful application would be beneficial to the research community. A new theory is being developed for social ride-sharing in maximizing both riders' satisfaction and trip efficiency. A living lab is being used in collaboration with local entities to demonstrate the pilot implementation of the research product.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2017072
  • Start date: 08/2016
  • Project status: Active
  • Research area: Planning and Economy