NREL's Sustainable Mobility Initiative approaches sustainable transportation as a network of travelers, services, and environments—rather than just vehicles and roads—using connectivity and automation to optimize mobility and increase energy efficiency.
NREL is exploring innovative mobility strategies that have the potential to transform the movement of people and goods, boost the domestic economy, and save time and money. Research focuses on maximizing these returns while minimizing unintended negative consequences, such as increased travel and energy use due to greater convenience.
Research and Development
NREL's Sustainable Mobility Initiative takes a whole-system approach to maximize energy savings, blazing new trails with novel approaches that combine vehicle, building, and infrastructure connectivity and automation to optimize mobility and increase energy efficiency.
Connectivity and Interaction with the Built Environment
Traveler-to-traveler, vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-grid, and vehicle-to-building connectivity to support sustainable trip choices, provide energy storage and backup for renewables, integrate transportation systems with the built environment, and use vehicles to balance building and utility electricity loads.
Automated vehicle controls to improve energy efficiency, safety, and convenience. Adaptive cruise control and truck platooning strategies to allow vehicles to travel closer together, reducing drag, energy consumption, and congestion.
Understanding travel behavior and consumer choice leading to the adoption of more fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-efficient travel choices.
Integrated Transportation System Management
Optimum travel mode, time, and route selection based on energy efficiency, road conditions, traffic flow, and travel preferences to reduce miles traveled and traffic congestion.
NREL researchers publish journal articles, conference papers, and reports about sustainable mobility technologies and systems.BROWSE PUBLICATIONS
Sustainable Mobility Leadership
NREL is advancing a range of ongoing activities at NREL and other research organizations, as well as at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
NREL is collaborating with other national labs on DOE’s Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation (or SMART) Mobility initiative, which focuses on behavioral and decision science, connectivity and automation, integrated multi-modal freight transportation systems, urban science, and alternative fueling infrastructure. In related efforts, NREL provides technical leadership for DOE’s Energy Efficient Mobility Systems Program.
Funded by DOE’s ARPA-E program, the Connected Traveler project established a framework for steering individuals toward energy-efficient travel choices in response to real-time feedback and incentives. Pairing transportation modeling with behavior theory, vehicle connectivity, and mobile technology, the recently debuted Metropia app shows individuals how much energy they can save by taking an alternative route, leaving at a different time, or finding another way to make a given trip.
Led by CDOT, the RoadX program aims to make Colorado's transportation system one of the most technologically advanced in the nation—reducing the cost of transporting goods, improving highway safety, and decreasing congestion. The program leverages NREL’s systems-level expertise in vehicle-to-grid integration, data analysis, and vehicles and fuels research to make this vision a reality. View CDOT's RoadX video.
Integrated Data and Analysis Tools
Bolstered by world-class computational science and high-performance computing capabilities, our integrated data and analysis tools inform the development of innovative mobility technologies and systems.
Forecasting tool for estimating how much electric vehicle charging infrastructure is needed in a designated area to meet a given demand.
FASTSim enables quick powertrain comparisons to estimate the impact of technology improvements on vehicle efficiency, performance, cost, and battery life.
HIVE simulates the operations of mobility-service-provider fleets, providing insight into how mobility service operations impact energy use, emissions, vehicle usage patterns, and levels of service.
The MEP metric quantifies mobility for a given area with respect to the opportunities that can be accessed via available travel modes as well as the required time, cost, and energy.
The TSDC repository of detailed travel data from travel surveys and studies—including demographic information and second-by-second speed profiles—supports cross-cutting research projects while protecting participant privacy.
See our full collection of tools.