Modeling Future Scenarios To Make Airport Travel More Efficient (Text Version)

Watch this animation to see how the ATHENA project is applying the power of U.S. Department of Energy supercomputers to inform efficiency improvements at transportation hubs such as Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

The video opens by quickly zooming out of a city map to highlight an airport.

Narrator: Airports like Dallas Fort-Worth (or DFW) are busy hubs that coordinate the movement of passengers, goods, and services from surrounding areas.

The screen progressively populates with orange icons of various transportation vehicles, and all major highways are darkened on the map to draw attention to them.

Narrator: ATHENA’s aim is to use data and high-performance computing to make all of this activity more affordable and efficient. Here’s how it works.

The icons disappear and logos for Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory appear above the U.S. Department of Energy’s logo. Orange icons appear around them. They are titled Freight Routes, Flight Schedules, Fleet Analysis, Weather Forecasts, Traffic Data, Ride Share Data, and Demographics.

Narrator: Experts from NREL and Oak Ridge National Lab collect DFW Airport data, including traffic patterns, freight routes, flight schedules, weather forecasts, and other sources.

A large orange icon of a computer appears in the middle of the screen, and and the other icons are pulled into it. The computer slides to the side and is joined by a second icon of equal size on the right, which holds icons in it.

Narrator: Then, they leverage the labs’ powerful supercomputers to model and optimize the integration of new transportation technologies at the airport.

There are several icons, mostly transportation vehicles, but also Vendor Supplies, in a hub and spoke design, all drawing into an icon of an airport. That hub and spoke icon slides to the left, pushing the computer off the screen.

Narrator: The supercomputers allow the researchers to explore hundreds of thousands of potential future scenarios and optimize the energy cost per trip of the various types of transportation.

The airport icon in the middle breaks out to the right and splits into a black-and-white copy below the original. The copy is labeled Digital Twin.

Narrator: They’re developing a “digital twin” model of DFW Airport that uses traffic and human choice modeling, along with artificial intelligence, to simulate the impacts of future scenarios.

The computer icon re-appears on the lower right above the words HPC Simulation. Arrows connect to computer to the digital twin through the word Validation. An arrow connects the digital twin to words that say DFW Early Wins through the words Technology Projections.

Narrator: An iterative process validates the data to project current and future behaviors, based on expanded mobility choices to and from transportation hubs, increased freight volume, and the anticipated dynamics of airport access.

The icons wipe off the screen and a graph appears showing Mobility Energy Productivity from now through the next 20 years.

Narrator: The result: useful, actionable results that help DFW and other ports effectively integrate transformative technologies like autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, grid-connected electric vehicles, and drone transport.

The graph leaves and a map appears with transportation icons scattered on it. It fades out and the Athena logo fades in with the website address:

Narrator: Learn more about ATHENA at