Safe and Sustainable Fleet Management with Data Analytics and Reinforcement Training; Understanding the Diffusion of Electric Vehicles

Fuccella, Caroline, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Park, B. Brian, EN-Eng Sys and Environment, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society PV-Summer & Spec Acad Progs, University of Virginia

The transportation sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change around the globe. Efforts to make transportation more sustainable tends to go in two directions: technology-based and human-based. Human-based efforts are those that require people to make conscious decisions and actions in regards to eco-friendly transportation. The technical report discusses an example of this: the implementation of a mindful driving program for a university fleet that teaches about how to operate vehicles in ways that allow for the most efficient performance possible, increasing the sustainability factor, as well as how to operate them as safely as possible. Technology-based efforts are those that rely on creating and using technologies that are fundamentally more sustainable than other options. The STS research paper looks at one of these technologies, electric vehicles, and its diffusion into society as a viable option for sustainable transport. The combination of operating eco-friendly technology at its most efficient performance leads to the most sustainable transportation option, and the use of either effort individually by society also leads to a reduction in harmful emissions by this sector.
The technical report details the study of reinforcement training of a previously established mindful driver training program on the topics of safe and sustainable driving habits for the University of Virginia fleet. The programs focused on hard acceleration, harsh braking, harsh cornering, speeding, idling time, and seatbelt usage as metrics; all factors except seatbelt usage impact both the safety and sustainability of a drive, and therefore reducing the occurrence of infractions of each leads to an optimal drive. The motivation for the research project was the University fleet’s desire to reduce its number of accidents while also progressing its efforts for an eco-friendlier fleet. These programs are also impacting a larger portion of the transportation sector than just this one fleet, as the information gained from the research is being shared with other universities hoping to achieve the same goals.
Two types of reinforcement training were tested in this project: reactive and proactive training. Reactive training was given on a specific driving metric if the current behavior of a shop within the fleet was significantly worse than average previous behavior for that metric. Proactive training was given at a fixed date and reviewed all six metrics in depth regardless of shop performance. These two training types were administered by a shop manager to drivers of vehicles that had previously received the mindful driver training program created by the prior iteration of this project and both used the same materials, a scorecard detailing the infractions and scores of the vehicles and a conversation template with information on shaping the conversation and driving tips for each metric. Reactive training was found to be successful for the only metric it was tested on, speeding, as it was the only metric that triggered a training; proactive training also showed success in improving driving performance for five out of six metrics, all but harsh cornering. This technical research project was able to create a reinforcement training program that reimproved driver performance that had declined after time had passed from the previously successful mindful driver training program.
The STS research paper focuses on the lack of adoption of electric vehicles by most of society despite their environmental benefits and their similarity to widely used gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles. The Social Construction of Technology, founded by Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker, and Diffusion of Innovation Theory, founded by Everett Rogers, along with journal articles and newspaper articles are used to assess the diffusion level of electric vehicles in society and the relevant factors keeping it low. Also included is the use of Norway as a case study as the diffusion level of electric vehicles is significantly higher there than anywhere else in the world. Using the societal reasons why electric vehicles are not highly adopted by most countries and why they are in Norway can lead to a framework for how to raise adoption levels in different areas based on their relevant factors and current diffusion level. Eliminating barriers of adoption of this technology to allow it to take the place of less sustainable transportation options would result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change calls for change across many different aspects of life, and considering the scale at which transportation contributes, it is important to work on changes there. Both the technical research topic and the STS research topic study areas in which actions have proven successful and can be used as ways to make transportation options more eco-friendly.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Diffusion of Innovation, Social Construction of Technology, Driver Training, Eco-Driving, Electric Vehicle

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering
Technical Advisor: B. Brian Park
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Ryan Ahmadiyar, Jenny Chun, Damir Hrnjez, Grace Parzych, Benjamin Weisel

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