System Dynamics Seminar: “A framework and model for assessing mobility and equity impacts of automated vehicles”

Friday, May 10, 2019
10:00 am to 11:00 am
Floor/Room #: 

In this week’s CLM (Friday, May 10th, 10:00 - 11:00 AM ET, @ Salisbury Labs SL313), Scott Smith ( and Hannah Rakoff ( will be presenting their work:

A framework and model for assessing mobility and equity impacts of automated vehicles
Abstract: The adoption of automated vehicles (AVs) may transform personal mobility, while at the same time bringing the risk of increased travel/congestion as well as challenges for keeping public transport economically sustainable. Equity impacts are of particular concern, where automation may affect groups such as non-motorists, persons with disabilities, and low income households in very different ways.  

In this work we draw from existing applications of system dynamics to transportation, travel demand modeling, as well as newer research on the impacts of mobility-on-demand (MaaS) services, to develop a framework and model for assessing the impacts of automation scenarios on different groups of users. This model is intended to provide insight into the long term effects of various policy and infrastructure options that might be considered today.  

Travel options that we consider include: existing privately owned vehicle, existing ride-hailing (taxi and other MaaS services), and existing public transport, as well as the expected future options of privately owned AV, shared AV, and shared rides in AVs.  

Our framework considers the following relationships, leading to balancing or reinforcing loops:
•    Demand, infrastructure, and congestion (build it and they will come)
•    Service provision and demand (more service leads to more demand)
•    Competition among modes both for riders and for limited road space

Our modeling is at the strategic level, designed to run very quickly so that a large number of scenarios can be evaluated. We will present the framework and preliminary results.  


Scott Smith is a senior operations research analyst with 25 years of experience in applying technology to improve transportation operations and safety across all modes.  For the past four years, he has been leading a multi-disciplinary team to assess the impacts of automated driving on the transportation system and society.  In addition to automation, his work includes activities to facilitate the use of advanced travel models, including the development of several traffic assignment and simulation models.  
Dr. Smith holds Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certifications. He is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the Project Management Institute and the Transportation Planning Applications Committee of the Transportation Research Board.  He holds a doctorate in Civil Engineering from MIT.

Hannah Rakoff brought system dynamics modeling to the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s work understanding the impacts of automated vehicles. She developed partnerships with researchers at MIT and various European research institutions to help OEMs and regional planners understand the range of possible futures Ms. Rakoff leads a team which developed a benefit-cost assessment tool for emerging vehicle-infrastructure cooperative technologies, allowing states to put them on an equal footing with existing options when prioritizing investments.  Ms.

Rakoff has over 15 years of experience in transportation asset management and process improvement and is a trained Six Sigma Black Belt with work experience in Canada and the UK. Fluent in French, she led the Volpe Center’s 2015-2017 field analysis for major infrastructure development aid in West Africa.   


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If you have any questions or concerns or would like to present in our CLMs, please email Christine Tang, at