Research Archive

Freight Advanced Traveler Information System (FRATIS)

Freight Advanced Traveler Information System is a bundle of applications that provides freight-specific dynamic travel planning and performance information and optimizes drayage operations so that load movements are coordinated between freight facilities to reduce empty-load trips.

Research Plan

The Freight Advanced Traveler Information Systems (FRATIS) bundle of applications seeks to improve the efficiency of freight operations by using several levels of real-time information to guide adaptive and effective decision making. Currently, freight routing, scheduling, and dispatch decisions are sometimes made in an ad-hoc fashion, with inadequate data to make fully informed decisions. This is particularly the case for small- to medium-sized firms (this category includes many drayage operators and over-the-road haulers) that may not be able to invest in information technologies and systems at the level of larger firms. While much data are already available, FRATIS seeks to integrate existing data sources in a manner and with a quality that is oriented toward freight’s unique operational characteristics that require different data and methods/time frames for information delivery. Also, the applications will be developed in a manner that leverages connected vehicle data.

Two applications comprise FRATIS. While envisioned as separate applications, both must be present and deployed in an integrated fashion. The applications are:

  • Freight Specific Dynamic Travel Planning and Performance: This application bundle seeks to include all of the traveler information, dynamic routing, and performance monitoring elements that users need. It is expected that this application will leverage existing data in the public domain, as well as emerging private sector applications, to provide benefits to both sectors. Other data includes real-me freeway and key arterial speeds and volumes, incident information, road closure information, route restrictions, bridge heights, truck parking availability, cell phone and/or Bluetooth movement/speed data, weather data, and real-time speed data from fleet management systems.
  • Drayage Optimization: This application bundle seeks to combine container load matching and freight information exchange systems to fully optimize drayage operations, thereby minimizing bobtails/ dry runs and wasted miles, as well as spreading out truck arrivals at intermodal terminals throughout the day. With this application, the US DOT and industry also have an opportunity to address some key industry gaps — to truly optimize a freight carrier’s itinerary, extensive communication is required from a wide range of entities (including rail carriers, metropolitan planning organizations, traffic management centers, customers, and the freight carriers themselves) in a manner that assesses all of the variables and produces an optimized itinerary. This requires the development of a powerful set of algorithms that leverage data from multiple sources. In addition to optimization, these improvements are expected to lead to benefits in terms of air quality and traffic congestion.

Both bundles will consist of two application levels — a basic application, developed from open-source data and services and available in the public realm; and a “value-added” commercial application, targeted at existing subscriber user groups. A set of foundational documents (including a ConOps and systems requirements document) will be available in the spring of 2013.

With the conclusion of the first phase of FRATIS research nearly complete, the DMA program has moved into the second phase which is focused on applications development and testing. A June 2012 request for task proposals resulted in a range of innovative ways to prototype and demonstrate a FRATIS application under real-world conditions and with strong public-private partnerships and participation from planning associations, freight forwarder associations, private sector owner/operators, port and inland port associations, and local DOT and planning agencies. The FRATIS prototypes will build from a previous research effort — the Cross-Town Improvement Project (C-TIP) — which was a 2009-2010 prototype of a system and algorithm that sought to demonstrate the benefits of travel demand management, dynamic routing, and drayage optimization for the Kansas City inland port. The FRATIS prototypes are expected to address the gaps identified in C-TIP.

The three sites chosen to demonstrate FRATIS will offer the following capabilities:

  • The Los Angeles-Gateway Region site will be developing the FRATIS applications to address the dynamic travel planning algorithm around the marine terminals and queues to move cargo out of the port more efficiently.
  • The Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas site will be prototyping the FRATIS applications to incorporate the integrated corridor management capability. This site is also testing the Connected Vehicle Basic Safety Message (SAE Standards J2735-2009). It is additionally looking to optimize drayage opportunities in coordination with Burlington Northern Railroad and local truck drayage companies.
  • The South Florida site will be focused in a similar manner as the other sites, but will be adding an emergency response capability to FRATIS that would realign the purpose of freight transportation to bring in supplies during an emergency such as a hurricane.

All three areas will integrate data from existing sources and collect data to measure FRATIS performance goals and transformative targets. These performance metrics include reductions in:

  • Travel time
  • Travel stop time
  • Fuel consumption
  • Level of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas equivalents

Phase 2 will begin with data collection to establish the existing baseline in each area. Software development will also proceed. Prototype demonstrations are expected to be launched in the summer of 2013 and run for approximately six months in order to collect evaluation data. Evaluation results are expected in August 2015.