The team has developed initial tools to estimate and quantify the environmental impacts of freight activity resulting from the growth of online shopping. The research has identified that electrification, land use planning (to manage the location of freight facilities), and consumer behavior practices could help mitigate the negative impacts in urban and semi-urban areas. Therefore, the STEPS team in interested in focusing on these strategies, as an initial effort, and conduct further research. It is important to acknowledge that online shopping has had a direct impact across the freight industry as well as passenger mobility. The team expects to dwell into this complex problem that affects most of the other research thrusts as a longer-term effort. For instance, the increase in urban distribution may require the strategic location of freight facilities near the final destination, which in essence, could decrease the vehicle distribution distances, thus affecting vehicle fleet choices and leveling the field amongst various vehicle technologies (e.g., diesel vs. electric); an increase in urban goods movement would prompt additional regulations such as the New York City ban on curb access, which has temporal and spatial consequences on freight activity.
In this project, the team will expand initial models to be able to test different city logistics strategies and distribution networks, and evaluate how these could affect the deployment of zero emission vehicle technologies.