Automatgenererad bild.

23 June 2016

SEK 40m for mobility research focusing on behaviour and IT services

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm is to host a new Mistra programme on smart mobility and accessibility. This was decided by Mistra’s Board in early June. The purpose of the new programme is to develop knowledge of integrated services for sustainable mobility and sustainable transport.

Sustainable Accessibility and Mobility Services (SAMS) is a Mistra programme to be headed by KTH and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (Väg- och transportforskningsinstitutet, VTI). The consortium behind the initiative, costing a total of SEK 40 million over four years, also includes two universities: Karlstad and Uppsala.

Several major companies have joined in. They include Ericsson, and also Hertz and Sunfleet with their operations in the areas of car hire and car pools respectively. Three municipalities — the City of Stockholm, the City of Malmö and Botkyrka southwest of Stockholm — are also taking part.

‘It’s an exciting programme they’ve put together, with a combination of high quality and good questions. And they’ve also brought several big companies and municipalities on board,’ comments Mistra’s Programmes Director Christopher Folkeson Welch.

The aim is to develop integrated IT services to facilitate sustainable mobility and travel. Future travel will presumably be nothing like it is today. Sustainability analyses of various mobility services will also be performed.

The present-day transport system functions largely as it did 30 years ago, but may soon undergo radical change owing to innovations that overturn existing business models. Examples are solutions for a sharing economy and self-driving vehicles.

SAMS is to focus on mobility services, intermodality, and behaviour and attitudes. Research on motor fuels, engine design and fuel consumption is not included. The technical problems are seldom so big as to be insoluble, Folkeson Welch thinks. Rather, what counts is understanding and responding to user behaviour, investigating mobility services and policy instruments, and steering transport users towards greater sustainability.

Leadership of the programme is divided between Anna Kramers and Jonas Åkerman, who both work at the Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering (SEED) at KTH.

‘We see transport as a sociotechnical system and our research will have a major focus on behavioural issues,’ says Jonas Åkerman.

According to him, the fact that Stockholm and other municipalities have joined in is connected with the City’s ambition of becoming fossil-free by 2040 at the latest. Simultaneously, Stockholm is set to expand by 140,000 inhabitants — a prospect that, Åkerman explains, entails both challenges and opportunities.

SAMS is due to start with a kick-off in mid-autumn.

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