Identifying the most efficient way to operate electric vehicles, with the help of mathematical models.

Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering (CSE Graduate School)
Master’s program 2nd year
Atsuya Suzuki
Takayuki Shiina Laboratory

Q Tell us about your research.

My master’s thesis focused on the efficient operation of EV buses (electric buses). Since my specialty is Operations Research – the study of how to solve social issues and corporate problems using mathematical methods – I proposed operating such buses using mathematical models.
EV buses are scheduled be put to practical use in Japan where they are expected to contribute to decarbonization and sustainability, especially in terms of energy efficiency, but at the moment the cost of introducing them is still high and the hurdles towards their practical application are many.
Cost factors range from hardware issues, such as storage batteries in vehicles and securing charging stations , to software issues such as the timing of recharge. I proposed a mathematical model that can minimize those costs.

Q Tell us about some of the difficulties you encountered.

Since EV buses are not yet widespread in Japan, for all related literature and papers one must turn abroad, especially to Europe, where they are becoming more popular. And because of the difference in geographical conditions and climate, there were many elements that could not be applied to the Japanese situation.
For example, when setting up charging stations Europe, compared to Japan, has wider roads and an abundance of land, so charging stations can be built anywhere and there is little evidence that efficiency is being considered. On the other hand, having to consider Japan’s narrow roads and land availability was a distinguishing feature of my research, but it is difficult because there are a lot of variables to consider.
There is no denying that the adoption of electric vehicles in Japan is lagging behind. In Japan, a lot of effort is being put into hydrogen fuel, with hydrogen stations gradually appearing in cities, and challenges are being taken on in different fields, so certain things may just be impossible to do.

Dealing with uncertainty and applying shared models to different fields

Q What is the most interesting aspect of your research?

The Shiina Laboratory, to which I belong, has chosen ”uncertainty” as its main theme in operations research. For example, buses’ operating conditions are subject to uncertainty due to the impact of climate and traffic conditions, and it can be argued that logistics and supply chains are also at the mercy of uncertain factors. What’s interesting about this is that we can use shared approaches and frameworks to make decisions regarding such uncertain events.
Another appealing aspect is the wide range of topics we deal with and the fact that you can find commonalities with different social phenomena.