The Department of Energy's SMART (Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation) Mobility consortium was established to better understand the energy and climate change impacts that arise from future mobility systems.

When I was growing up, people would speculate that in 30 years we would have roadways in the sky with flying cars. We watched the DeLorean time machine in Back to the Future and imagined what it would be like in 2015. We are still a long way from flying cars, and I haven’t seen any DeLoreans on the road lately, but the promise of tomorrow’s transportation technologies is exciting.

Last week, the Energy Department (DOE) demonstrated its continued commitment to help bring some of these exciting technologies to U.S. cities with an announcement of a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to advance the research, demonstration, development and deployment of smart transportation and alternative fuel technologies. DOE formalized the collaboration by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DOT to further leverage combined expertise in transportation energy technology and safety systems. This will allow us to accelerate analysis, tools, and applications of smart transportation and alternative fuel technologies in support of the cities of the future.

Through the Smart City Challenge, DOT has pledged $40 million (with an additional $10 million commitment from Vulcan, Inc.) to enable one U.S. city to become the first in the nation to fully integrate innovative technologies into its transportation system in ways that will improve quality of life and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In March, DOT announced the seven finalist cities and offered $100,000 to each to help further develop their proposals.

Here at DOE, we seek to complement DOT’s efforts in support of cities by offering tools and capabilities in future mobility systems modeling and simulation, data management and analytics, and access to national laboratory technologies. We are excited to lend our extensive experience in transportation electrification and alternative fuel vehicle fleet deployment gained through our EV Everywhere initiative and Clean Cities program. In addition to transportation sector support, cities can benefit from the Energy Department’s broad portfolio of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, tools and resources.

We are also looking forward to leveraging the work and expertise of our SMART (Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation) Mobility consortium, which we established to better understand the energy and climate change impacts that arise from future mobility systems. This multi-laboratory consortium provides an integrated framework to analyze the complex landscape of future transportation energy.

DOT’s activities are a natural complement to the Energy Department’s mission as it relates to technologies like connected and automated vehicles. These vehicles have the potential to offer immense societal benefits through improved safety and mobility, but the long-term energy impacts are less certain. 

These are exciting times for transportation. By working together to showcase what is possible through the Smart City Challenge, we hope to spark further innovation and identify solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. We might not be flying around in DeLoreans, but the future of transportation is closer than you think.

Learn more about EERE’s work to make transportation cleaner and more efficient through solutions that put electric drive vehicles on the road and replace oil with clean domestic fuels.