AIRLAB - AI for Retail

On-demand mobility systems are expanding worldwide. Their shared version bears great potential to build more sustainable cities. We explore their algorithmic and operational challenges, and how to use this technology to improve public transport.


Dr. Andres Fielbaum
Prof. Javier Alonso-Mora


C55 A. Fielbaum, R. Kucharski, O. Cats, and J. Alonso-Mora How to split the costs and charge the travellers sharing a ride? aligning system's optimum with users' equilibrium, European Journal of Operational Research, 2022.
Links: [web], [PDF], [PDF],
Abstract: Emerging on-demand sharing alternatives, in which one resource is utilised simultaneously by a circumstantial group of users, entail several challenges regarding how to coordinate such users. A very relevant case refers to how to form groups in a mobility system that offers shared rides, and how to split the costs within the travellers of a group. These are non-trivial tasks, as two objectives conflict: 1) minimising the total costs of the system, and 2) finding an equilibrium where each user is content with her assignment. Aligning both objectives is challenging, as users are not aware of the externalities induced to the rest. In this paper, we propose protocols to share the costs within a ride so that optimal solutions can also constitute equilibria. To do this, we model the situation as a non-cooperative game, which can be seen as a game-version of the well-known set cover problem. We show that the traditional notions of equilibrium in game theory (Nash and Strong) are not useful here, and prove that determining whether a Strong Equilibrium exists is an NP-Complete problem, by reducing it to the k-Exact-Cover problem. Hence, we propose three alternative equilibrium notions (stronger than Nash and weaker than Strong), depending on how users can coordinate. For each of these equilibrium notions, we propose a (possibly overcharging) cost-sharing protocol that yields the optimal solutions equilibria. Simulations for Amsterdam reveal that our protocols can achieve stable solutions that are close to the optimum, and that having a central coordinator can have a large impact..
J31 A. Fielbaum, M. Kronmueller, and J. Alonso-Mora, Anticipatory routing methods for an on-demand ridepooling mobility system, Transportation, 2021.
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Abstract: On-demand mobility systems in which passengers use the same vehicle simultaneously are a promising transport mode, yet difficult to control. One of the most relevant challenges relates to the spatial imbalances of the demand, which induce a mismatch between the position of the vehicles and the origins of the emerging requests. Most ridepooling models face this problem through rebalancing methods only, i.e., moving idle vehicles towards areas with high rejections rate, which is done independently from routing and vehicle-to-orders assignments, so that vehicles serving passengers (a large portion of the total fleet) remain unaffected. This paper introduces two types of techniques for anticipatory routing that affect how vehicles are assigned to users and how to route vehicles to serve such users, so that the whole operation of the system is modified to reach more efficient states for future requests. Both techniques do not require any assumption or exogenous knowledge about the future demand, as they depend only on current and recent requests. Firstly, we introduce rewards that reduce the cost of an assignment between a vehicle and a group of passengers if the vehicle gets routed towards a high-demand zone. Secondly, we include a small set of artificial requests, whose request times are in the near future and whose origins are sampled from a probability distribution that mimics observed generation rates. These artificial requests are to be assigned together with the real requests. We propose, formally discuss and experimentally evaluate several formulations for both approaches. We test these techniques in combination with a state-of-the-art trip-vehicle assignment method, using a set of real rides from Manhattan. Introducing rewards can diminish the rejection rate to about nine-tenths of its original value. On the other hand, including future requests can reduce users’ traveling times by about one-fifth, but increasing rejections. Both methods increase the vehicles-hour-traveled by about 10%. Spatial analysis reveals that vehicles are indeed moved towards the most demanded areas, such that the reduction in rejections rate is achieved mostly there.
J31 A. Fielbaum, X. Bai, and J. Alonso-Mora, On-demand ridesharing with optimized pick-up and drop-off walking locations, Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, 2021.
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Abstract: On-demand systems in which passengers with similar routes can share a vehicle are expected to become a relevant part of future mobility, thanks to their flexibility and their potential impact on reducing congestion. Nevertheless, due to the long detours required by a door-to-door scheme, they induce extra costs to the users in terms of delay. In this paper, we face the design of such a system in which users might be requested online to walk towards/from nearby pick-up/drop-off points if this improves overall efficiency. We show theoretically that the general problem becomes more complex (as it contains two sub-problems that extend set-cover), analyze the trade-offs that emerge, and provide a general formulation and specific heuristics that are able to solve it over large instances. We test this formulation over a real dataset of Manhattan taxi trips (9970 requests during one hour), finding that (a) average walks of about one minute can reduce the number of rejections in more than 80% and Vehicles-Hour-Traveled in more than 10%, (b) users who depart or arrive at the most demanded areas are more likely to be required to walk, and (c) the performance improvement of the service is larger when the system receives more trip requests.
J31 R. Kucharski, A. Fielbaum, J. Alonso-Mora, and O. Cats, If you are late, everyone is late: late passenger arrival and ride-pooling systems' performance, Transportmetrica A: Transport Science, 2021.
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Abstract: Sharing rides in on-demand systems allow passengers to reduce their fares and service providers to increase revenue, though at the cost of adding uncertainty to the system. Notably, the uncertainty of ride-pooling systems stems not only from travel times but also from unique features of sharing, such as the dependency on other passengers' arrival time at their pick up points. In this work, we theoretically and experimentally analyse how late arrivals at pick up locations impact shared rides' performance. We find that the total delay is equally distributed among sharing passengers. However, delay composition gradually shifts from on-board delay only for the first passenger to waiting delay at the origin for the last passenger. Sadly, trips with more passengers are more adversely impacted. Strategic behaviour analysis reveals Nash equilibria that might emerge. We analyse the system-wide effects and find that when lateness increases passengers refrain from sharing and eventually opt-out.
J31 P. Schuller, A. Fielbaum, and J. Alonso-Mora Towards a geographically even level of service in on-demand ridepooling , In Proceedings of IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Conference, 2021.
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Abstract: On-demand ridepooling systems usually need to decide which requests to serve, when the number of vehicles is not enough to transport them all with waiting times that are acceptable by the users. When doing so, they tend to provide uneven service rates, concentrating rejections in some zones within the operation area. In this paper, we propose two techniques that modify the objective function governing the assignment of users to vehicles, to prioritize requests originated at zones that present a relatively large rejection rate. The goal is to diminish the Gini Index of the rejections' rate, which is a well established way to measure inequality in economics. We test these techniques over an artificial small network and a real-life case in Manhattan, and we show that they are able to reduce the Gini Index of the rejection rates. Moreover, the overall rejection rate can be simultaneously reduced, thanks to utilizing the vehicles more efficiently.
J31 A. Fielbaum and J. Alonso-Mora Unreliability in ridesharing systems: Measuring changes in users’ times due to new requests, Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, 2020.
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Abstract: On-demand systems in which several users can ride simultaneously the same vehicle have great potential to improve mobility while reducing congestion. Nevertheless, they have a significant drawback: the actual realization of a trip depends on the other users with whom it is shared, as they might impose extra detours that increase the waiting time and the total delay; even the chance of being rejected by the system depends on which travelers are using the system at the same time. In this paper we propose a general description of the sources of unreliability that emerge in ridesharing systems and we introduce several measures. The proposed measures are related to two sources of unreliability induced by how requests and vehicles are being assigned, namely how users’ times change within a single trip and between different realizations of the same trip. We then analyze both sources using a state-of-the-art routing and assignment method, and a New York City test case. Regarding same trip unreliability, in our experiments for different fixed fleet compositions and when reassignment is not restricted, we find that more than one third of the requests that are not immediately rejected face some change, and the magnitude of these changes is relevant: when a user faces an increase in her waiting time, this extra time is comparable to the average waiting time of the whole system, and the same happens with total delay. Algorithmic changes to reduce this uncertainty induce a trade-off with respect to the overall quality of service. For instance, not allowing for reassignments may increase the number of rejected requests. Concerning the unreliability between different trips, we find that the same origin-destination request can be rejected or served depending on the state of the fleet. And when it is served the waiting times and total delay are rarely equal, which remains true for different fleet sizes. Furthermore, the largest variations are faced by trips beginning at high-demand areas.
J31 A. de Ruijter, O. Cats, J. Alonso-Mora, and S. Hoogendoorn Ride-Sharing Efficiency and Level of Service under Alternative Demand, Behavioral and Pricing Settings, In Proceedings of Transportation Research Board 2020 Annual Meeting.
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Abstract: Previous studies examining ride-sharing potential assumed that rides can be shared as long as the incurred delay does not exceed a certain threshold. Conversely, we formulate willingness to share as a compensatory cost function at the individual passenger level. The latter considers trade-offs between delays caused by detours, travel discomfort related to sharing a vehicle and a fare discount associated with a shared ride. Next to finding how these behavioral preferences and the offered discount structure affect the efficiency and level of service of ride-sharing services, the effect of directionality in demand is considered. A graph-based approach is applied to perform an efficient assignment of vehicles to requests. We test the model on an experiment representing an urban context. Our findings suggest that service performance is strongly dependent on users’ willingness to share and somewhat less strongly on users’ tolerance to delays. Implementation of a ride-sharing service is most successful when directionality in demand is low, while ride-specific discounts can be effective in maximizing societal benefits.
J31 A. Wallar, W. Schwartig, J. Alonso-Mora, and D. Rus Optimizing Multi-class Fleet Compositions for Shared Mobility-as-a-Service, In Proceedings of IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Conference, 2019.
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Abstract: Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) systems are transforming the way society moves. The introduction and adoption of pooled ride-sharing has revolutionized urban transit with the potential of reducing vehicle congestion, improving accessibility and flexibility of a city’s transportation infrastructure. Recently developed algorithms can compute routes for vehicles in realtime for a city-scale volume of requests, as well as optimize fleet sizes for MaaS systems that allow requests to share vehicles. Nonetheless, they are not capable of reasoning about the composition of a fleet and their varying capacity classes. In this paper, we present a method to not only optimize fleet sizes, but also their multi-class composition for MaaS systems that allow requests to share vehicles. We present an algorithm to determine how many vehicles of each class and capacity are needed, where they should be initialized, and how they should be routed to service all the travel demand for a given period of time. The algorithm maximizes utilization while reducing the total number of vehicles and incorporates constraints on waittimes and travel-delays. Finally, we evaluate the effectiveness of the algorithm for multi-class fleets with pooled ride-sharing using 426,908 historical taxi requests from Manhattan and 187,243 downtown Singapore. We show fleets comprised of vehicles with smaller capacities can reduce the total travel delay by 10% in Manhattan whereas larger capacity fleets in downtown Singapore contribute to a 9% reduction in the total waiting time.
J31 A. Wallar, J. Alonso-Mora, and D. Rus Optimizing Vehicle Distributions and Fleet Sizes for Mobility-on-Demand, In Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2019.
Links: [web], [PDF],
Abstract: Mobility-on-demand (MoD) systems are revolutionizing urban transit with the introduction of ride-sharing. Such systems have the potential to reduce vehicle congestion and improve accessibility of a city’s transportation infrastructure. Recently developed algorithms can compute routes for vehicles in real-time for a city-scale volume of requests while allowing vehicles to carry multiple passengers at the same time. However, these algorithms focus on optimizing the performance for a given fleet of vehicles and do not tell us how many vehicles are needed to service all the requests. In this paper, we present an offline method to optimize the vehicle distributions and fleet sizes on historical demand data for MoD systems that allow passengers to share vehicles. We present an algorithm to determine how many vehicles are needed, where they should be initialized, and how they should be routed to service all the travel demand for a given period of time. Evaluation using 23,529,740 historical taxi requests from one month in Manhattan shows that on average 2864 four passenger vehicles are needed to service all of the taxi demand in a day with an average added travel delay of 2.8 mins.
J31 M. Cap and J. Alonso-Mora Multi-Objective Analysis of Ridesharing in Automated Mobility-on-Demand, In Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems, 2018.
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Abstract: Self-driving technology is expected to enable the realization of large-scale mobility-on-demand systems that employ massive ridesharing. The technology is being celebrated as a potential cure for urban congestion and others negative externalities of individual automobile transportation. In this paper, we quantify the potential of ridesharing with a fleet of autonomous vehicles by considering all possible trade-offs between the quality of service and operation cost of the system that can be achieved by sharing rides. We formulate a multi-objective fleet routing problem and present a solution technique that can compute Pareto-optimal fleet operation plans that achieve different tradeoffs between the two objectives. Given a set of requests and a set of vehicles, our method can recover a trade-off curve that quantifies the potential of ridesharing with given fleet. We provide a formal optimality proof and demonstrate that the proposed method is scalable and able to compute such trade-off curves for instances with hundreds of vehicles and requests optimally. Such an analytical tool helps with systematic design of shared mobility system, in particular, it can be used to make principled decisions about the required fleet size.
J31 D. Fiedler, M. Certicky and J. Alonso-Mora The Impact of Ridesharing in Mobility-on-Demand Systems: Simulation Case Study in Prague, In Proceedings of IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Conference, 2018.
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Abstract: In densely populated-cities, the use of private cars for personal transportation is unsustainable, due to high parking and road capacity requirements. The mobility-ondemand systems have been proposed as an alternative to a private car. Such systems consist of a fleet of vehicles that the user of the system can hail for one-way point-to-point trips. These systems employ large-scale vehicle sharing, i.e., one vehicle can be used by several people during one day and consequently, the fleet size and the parking space requirements can be reduced, but, at the cost of a non-negligible increase in vehicles miles driven in the system. The miles driven in the system can be reduced by ridesharing, where several people traveling in a similar direction are matched and travel in one vehicle. We quantify the potential of ridesharing in a hypothetical mobility-on-demand system designed to serve all trips that are currently realized by private car in the city of Prague. Our results show that by employing a ridesharing strategy that guarantees travel time prolongation of no more than 10 minutes, the average occupancy of a vehicle will increase to 2.7 passengers. Consequently, the number of vehicle miles traveled will decrease to 35 % of the amount in the MoD system without ridesharing and to 60% of the amount in the present state.
J31 A. Wallar, M. van der Zee, J. Alonso-Mora, and D. Rus Vehicle Rebalancing for Mobility-on-Demand Systems with Ride-Sharing, In Proceedings of IEEE/RSJ Conf. on Robotics and Intelligent Systems 2018.
Links: [web], [PDF],
Abstract: Recent developments in Mobility-on-Demand (MoD) systems have demonstrated the potential of road vehicles as an efficient mode of urban transportation Newly developed algorithms can compute vehicle routes in real-time for batches of requests and allow for multiple requests to share vehicles. These algorithms have primarily focused on optimally producing vehicle schedules to pick up and drop off requests. The redistribution of idle vehicles to areas of high demand, known as rebalancing, on the contrary has received little attention in the context of ride-sharing. In this paper, we present a method to rebalance idle vehicles in a ride-sharing enabled MoD fleet. This method consists of an algorithm to optimally partition the fleet operating area into rebalancing regions, an algorithm to determine a real-time demand estimate for every region using incoming requests, and an algorithm to optimize the assignment of idle vehicles to these rebalancing regions using an integer linear program. Evaluation with historical taxi data from Manhattan shows that we can service 99.8% of taxi requests in Manhattan using 3000 vehicles with an average waiting time of 57.4 seconds and an average in-car delay of 13.7 seconds. Moreover, we can achieve a higher service rate using 2000 vehicles than prior work achieved with 3000. Furthermore, with a fleet of 3000 vehicles, we reduce the average travel delay by 86%, the average waiting time by 37%, and the amount of ignored requests by 95% compared to earlier work at the expense of an increased distance travelled by the fleet.
J31 J. Alonso-Mora, A. Wallar, and D. Rus Predictive Routing for Autonomous Mobility-on-Demand Systems with Ride-Sharing, In Proceedings of IEEE/RSJ Conf. on Robotics and Intelligent Systems 2017.
Links: [web], [PDF],
Abstract: Ride-sharing, or carpooling, systems with autonomous vehicles will provide efficient and reliable urban mobility on demand. In this work we present a method for dynamic vehicle routing that leverages historical data to improve the performance of a network of self-driving taxis. In particular, we describe a constrained optimization method capable of assigning requests to autonomous vehicles in an informed way, to minimize the expected cost of serving both current and future travel requests. We allow several passengers with independent trips to share a vehicle and allow vehicles to pick additional passengers as they progress through their route. Based on historical data, we compute a probability distribution over future demand. Then, samples from the learned probability distribution are incorporated into a decoupled vehicle routing and passenger assignment method to take into account the predicted future demand. This method consists of three steps, namely pruning of feasible trips, assignment of trips to vehicles and rebalancing of idle vehicles. We show the benefits and tradeoffs of this predictive approach in an experimental evaluation with over three million rides extracted from a dataset of taxi trips in New York City. Our method produces routes and assignments that, in expectation, reduce the travel and waiting times for passengers, with respect to a purely reactive approach. Besides the mobility on demand application, the method we present is general and could also be applied to other multi-task multi-vehicle assignment and routing problems.