In many major cities world-wide, shared mobility has become a major example for a general trend towards a Share Economy. The task of designing and operating such systems poses new scientific challenges (e.g. for robust optimization with stochastic modeling, handling large data, devising incentive based control, and economic evaluation).
In particular, several strategic and operational problems under uncertainty need to be addressed:
- the design of an optimal fleet - including the use of electro mobility;
- the deployment and repositioning of cars (relocation);
- the development of an incentive-based fee system, etc.
The first problem includes the analysis of the occurring (or expected) demand. A prototype application is that of a municipal provider (e.g. road maintenance service, gas works etc.) who needs vehicles of different sizes, capacity, provided with equipment adapted to the relevant requirements. Also, the demand for electro mobility adds additional challenges to the problem.
The second task deals with the local availability of the vehicles. Demands may indeed occur at a location where no appropriate resources are available, while other locations still have resources at hand. Hence transshipment or repositioning of resources is required. Available data has to be analyzed and used for the optimization of car pool sizes, car deployment and repositioning decisions in complex mobility networks. Autonomous driving provides additional opportunities here for achieving a desirable distribution of resources over a geographical area.
The third issue is that of incentives for both actually winning customers and inviting a certain customer behavior. Of course, the general question is, which (positive or negative) incentives should be presented to customers for which behavior. For instance, it is certainly desirable that customers either recharge the batteries of an electro vehicle themselves or deliver it to a charging station. Since recharging currently requires considerable planning and time, one would need to design incentives based on the current status of the batteries. Also, in order to win sustainable business, monthly rates may be offered that come with some sort of guarantee that a vehicle (of appropriate type) is indeed available at any time at a certain location or within a certain range.