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Digital twins of urban mobility are widely used to understand and predict traffic flow in and through cities, such as Utrecht, using agent- or activity-based modeling. Although successful, the psychological grounding of individual variation in these models, and therefore validity, is limited. The PhD research project will investigate how individual differences in decision-making can be modeled in digital twins of urban mobility (e.g., cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation in different urban settings) in a validated, more psychologically plausible way. The project offers an exciting opportunity for interdisciplinary research at the intersection of AI, Cognitive Science, Geosciences, and Computer Science. Moreover, there is active collaboration between Utrecht University, the research institute TNO, crowd simulation company uCrowds, and the municipality of Utrecht.
To realize the project’s aims, the PhD candidate will investigate individual differences in human decision-making for urban mobility scenarios that involve one or multiple forms of mobility (e.g., walking, cycling, taking public transportation, or a different kind of mode) in different urban settings. The PhD candidate will investigate two levels of decision-making and how it impacts mobility: operational level decisions (e.g., how small decisions such as whether to briefly pause to determine where to go next impact travel speed) and strategic decisions (e.g., how a preference to avoid crowded areas impact an agent’s route). For both types of decision-making, the PhD candidate will:
The ideal candidate for the position:
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. Utrecht University is located in one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture. At the university, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability. You can watch the Utrecht University Campus Tour to get an impression of our university.
In the area of AI, there is a university-wide focus area (Human-Centered AI) and various AI labs where the university collaborates with private partners. The project takes place in the AI labs. As such, the PhD candidate will be embedded in a broad research context of AI researchers.
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. Almost 7,000 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 1,100 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.
The faculty strives for diversity among its employees and students and is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, as can be read in Utrecht University's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.
The faculty attaches great importance to the fact that its employees can be widely deployed in the university organization, now and in the future, to further professionalize the support of education and research. To encourage this, every employee is given the time and facilities – for example in the form of training – at some point in their career to participate in projects or work in other departments. Characteristics that the faculty considers important are involvement, the ability to collaborate and flexibility.
The faculty is located at Utrecht Science Park near the historical city centre of Utrecht.
Heidelberglaan 1, 3584 CS, Utrecht
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