Transportation Sustainability Research Center and Partners Awarded DOE Grant for Large AV Fleet and Research

Featured Faculty: Susan Shaheen

UC Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC), Optimus Ride, Clemson University, and Argonne National Labs were selected for a Department of Energy (DOE) grant of up to $4.3 million to deploy one of the largest autonomous fleets in the US and conduct critical autonomous vehicle (AV) research. Together, the institutions seek to provide modern, practical mobility services for students, faculty, staff, and visitors at Clemson University and conduct cutting-edge research on the interplay of sustainability, rider behavior, and autonomous vehicles.

The DOE grant will allow for one of the largest deployments of autonomous shuttles in the US over a three year period. In support of the Biden-Harris Administration's goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, this deployment is part of the DOE’s $60 million effort to fund 24 research and development projects that are decarbonizing the transportation sector and reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light- and heavy-duty trucks. 

Optimus Ride will deploy up to 10 shuttles at Clemson University to analyze rider behavior and adoption, and examine the potential sustainability impact that autonomous vehicles can have when deployed on a single campus and at scale. Optimus Ride will also analyze its routes, vehicle performance, sustainability benchmarks, and other data to continue to refine its shuttle service and further advance its autonomous vehicle technology. Clemson University and Argonne National Laboratory will focus on the measurement and verification of energy and sustainability benefits, representing one of the first large-scale, real world efforts of this kind.

The researchers at UC Berkeley will concentrate on behavioral change and transportation mode shifting by riders to support a better understanding of how to encourage drivers into alternative and more environmentally friendly forms of transportation. Professor Susan Shaheen (Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering), TSRC's Director of Innovative Mobility Research and a thought leader in mobility strategies, will lead UC Berkeley's effort.

The project aims to meet the critical mobility needs of today while advancing AV technology, and creating environmental and operational efficiencies. We look forward to seeing its research results and the impact that electric autonomous vehicles can have on campuses nationwide.