MODUM: Models for Optimising Dynamic Urban Mobility

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Transport congestion problems contribute 70% of pollutants to urban environments whilst the transport sector by itself consumes up to 30% of the total energy in the EU. These figures suggest that if Europe is to reduce its CO2 emissions by making an efficient use of energy, novel approaches for the optimal management of urban transport complexity must be developed and adopted in the transport sector.

The EU project MODUM (Models for Optimising Dynamic Urban Mobility) addresses the environmental footprint in the transport sector with the aim of developing a new approach for pro-active demand-responsive management of traffic to enable energy-efficient multi-modal transport choices accommodating dynamic variations, minimising the environmental impact and improving the quality of life in urban environments. Moreover, MODUM will consider commuters, in combinations of both private and public transport, facing dynamic conditions such as unexpected disturbances typical of urban environments.

To date the project has undertaken requirement capture for low-carbon and efficient mobility through three qualitative studies each relying on a different research technique, namely; a survey for collecting critical incidents, a two-round Delphi study, and a series of focus groups at four different locations (Manchester, Nottingham, Sofia, and Leuven). The triangulation of these studies has provided an in-depth understanding of current commuting behaviour and practices in addition to the factors that influence such behaviour.

MODUM is currently in the process of bringing together the synthesis of two approaches,

(1) a traffic flow self-organising mechanism based on ant-like agent technology
(2) a “reverse” route planning based on software agent technology; using real-time data and declared destinations

Software implementation of the synthesised approach will then be embarked upon focusing on the telecommunication challenges of a realistic demonstrator. The prototype will provide an implementation of an optimisation approach to traffic management capable of dynamically adapting the overall flows of traffic to unexpected disturbances with the view of minimising carbon emissions within a complex urban environment.

It is envisaged that the implementation and application of this technology will produce a consequent reduction in both pollution levels and energy consumption in the transport sector.

For additional information about MODUM, please visit


M. Carpenter and N. Mehandjiev. An Agent based Approach for Balancing Commuter Traffic. In 19th IEEE International Workshops on Enabling Technologies: Infrastructures for Collaborative Enterprises (WETICE), 2010 .Larissa, Greece: IEEE CS Press.