2017 Projects

Analysis of train lateness

Rail operators around the world are using driver advice systems to provide train drivers with driving advice to help them keep trains on time and minimise energy use. TTG Transportation Technology provide driver advice systems to several railways in the UK. These advice units also capture detailed information about the operation of the railway, including the location and speed of each train at 10-second intervals. A typical UK operation will have 200-300 train services per day.

Preliminary analysis of train logs is showing that, on some railways, trains are unable to meet their timetables for 50-75% of the time. This is limiting the scope for on-time running and for energy savings.

The aim of this project is to analyse the data from train logs to determine where and when trains are losing time, to determine factors that contribute to time loss, and to develop new reporting methods that will assist with on-going monitoring of network and driver advice system performance.

Estimating transonic drag

The drag coefficient function of transonic projectiles rises gradually as speed drops, then drops sharply as the speed drops through Mach 1. DST Group wishes to estimate the drag coefficient function for various projectiles, to match empirical data. Empirical data for a projectile may contain observations of several trajectory parameters, including range, firing angle, muzzle velocity, maximum height and final velocity. Other data may contain very limited information, such as maximum range only; in this case, determining whether particular model parameters give a result that matches the data requires an expensive calculation of the optimal firing angle. Furthermore, when searching for an optimal trajectory, range does not vary smoothly with firing angle due to accuracy variations in the numerical methods used to calculate trajectories. Finding the best fit drag coefficient function reduces to global optimisation of a jump discontinuous multidimensional scalar function.

The aim for MISG is to investigate and develop methods that can efficiently find the globally optimal values of drag function parameters when evaluating a set of candidate parameters is expensive.

Do road safety cameras reduce crashes?

The Royal Automobile Association (RAA) in South Australia has data on expiation notices issued by police, and road crash data. They are also a major insurer in South Australia, and have access to car insurance data.

RAA is interested in creating a “dashboard” that can be updated annually to summarise how safety cameras are being used in South Australia, and their effectiveness at reducing road crashes.

Currently in South Australia there are 172 fixed cameras in operation, and in 2015-16 there were 1287 unique mobile camera locations used. In the last financial year, fines totalled almost $88 million.

Out of the top thirty intersections that recorded casualty crashes between 1996 and 2010, seventeen now have fixed safety cameras. Casualty and injury crashes have reduced, but how does this compare to intersections where cameras have not been installed?

RAA has access to road crash data since 1996 and expiation data from July 2012. RAA wishes to establish with camera sites have been most and least effective so that it can advocate on behalf of its members to ensure that cameras are used effectively.

See also: RAA summary report

Electricity pricing and control mechanisms for microgrids

Future communities will feature embedded electricity microgrids with low-capacity connections to the wider supply network. Within a community, customers will use rooftop photovoltaic systems to supply energy, and energy storage systems and demand management to control their energy use.

Control of electricity use within a community is required to manage peak power flows (which determine infrastructure capacity requirements) and to maximise the use of local energy from renewables. This control can be achieved using a combination of:

  • centralised control of generation, energy storage, and loads including water heating, air conditioning, pool pumps and electric vehicle charging
  • decentralised control based on real-time price signals.

The cost of imported electricity and the price paid for exported electricity should be low when there is an oversupply of energy in the community, and high when there is insufficient supply. However, sudden changes in price could lead to sudden changes in behaviour, and introduce instability into the system.

SA Power Networks is interested in investigating electricity pricing and control mechanisms that will:

  • minimise the cost of electricity for the community
  • share the costs fairly between customers within the community
  • empower customers to further reduce their bills by changing their behaviour
  • reward customers who behave in ways that benefit the community
  • ensure reliability and quality of electricity supply.

See also: SAPN summary report