Research Centers

ITS-Davis is internationally recognized for its multidisciplinary approach to transportation studies, with sustainability as a key underlying theme. To address today’s challenges, ITS-Davis has built strong research programs in three areas:

  • Travel behavior and transport systems modeling
  • Environmental vehicle technologies and fuels
  • Climate change, air quality, and other environmental impacts

These research programs are carried out by mission-specific centers within the Institute.

UC Davis Research Centers

3 Revolutions Future Mobility

The 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program includes a two-part strategy to build strong capabilities in rigorous research and policy outreach and engagement. These two complimentary efforts will address key challenges facing government and industry decision makers, including vehicle use, traffic congestion, air pollution, energy use, and the equity gap between mobility haves and have-nots.

BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative

ITS-Davis BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative conducts applied research on travel by bike, e-bike, e-kick-scooter, skateboard, e-skateboard, and other similar travel modes. The need for understanding the role of bicycle travel and other small vehicles is growing. A rise in adoption of bicycling and the proliferation of micromobility service companies (e.g. Lime, JUMP, Bird, Spin, etc.) both indicate a travel future where these vehicles play an important role in every day transportation. As our name implies, we are collaborative by nature working with researchers from a variety of universities and centers and partnering with government agencies and private industry.

China Center for Energy and Transportation

China Center for Energy and Transportation studies Chinese motorization and transportation energy systems, and teaches American and Chinese graduate students. The center collaborates with senior Chinese transportation scholars at State Council’s Development Research Center, Tsinghua University, Shanghai Tongji University, and Beijing Jiaotong University.

Electric Vehicle Research Center

The UC Davis Electric Vehicle Research Center is the hub of collaboration and research on plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles for the State of California. It provides technology and policy guidance to the state, and address research questions and commercialization issues for PHEVs and EVs.

Energy Futures

The Energy Futures Research Program is a rapidly growing research and policy program in the Institute of Transportation Studies of the University of California, Davis. It grows out of the STEPS program and focuses on medium/long term transportation energy transitions for California, the US and worldwide. The program receives support from a range of government and industry partners, planning agencies and research foundations, and works in close cooperation with the federally-funded National Center for Sustainable Transportation and the other research programs at UC Davis.

European Transport and Energy Research Centre

The ITS-Davis European Transport and Energy Research Centre (ETERC), based in Paris, as part of an effort that is broadening the geographical scope of its work across various global regions to help addressing these challenges. ETERC leverages years of close cooperation between the ITS-Davis and European institutions, especially important at a time when the European Union is developing articulated policy packages to support a green, digital and resilient transformation of its transport and energy systems. It builds on the ITS-Davis experience to support California in the development of key sustainable transport policies with global visibility.

India ZEV Research Centre

In recent years and at COP26, India and California have demonstrated continued global climate leadership, including joining the ZEV Transitions Council to advance ZEV adoption and promote international cooperation. Both regions are hubs of innovation and offer important lessons on using creative policy design and strategic public institutions to accelerate EV deployment. A California-India ZEV Partnership will provide the opportunity to explore sub-national policy design as a lever for vehicle electrification, and importantly, harness the role of states as laboratories of innovation in both the US-India context as well as the global south.

Mobility Science Automation and Inclusion Center

The Mobility Science Automation and Inclusion Center serves as a nexus point for collaborative research on  developing innovative transdisciplinary solutions for vehicle automation, connectivity, and edge intelligence (ACE), aiming to create a sustainable and equitable mobility ecosystem.

National Center for Sustainable Transportation

In 2013, the National Center for Sustainable Transportation was selected in a national competition and established as one of five national University Transportation Centers (UTCs) as part of the UTC program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2016, the NCST successfully re-competed for the opportunity to continue serving as one of the U.S. DOT’s five National UTCs and is addressing the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act research priority area of Preserving the Environment. The NCST provides national leadership in advancing environmentally sustainable transportation through cutting-edge research, direct policy engagement, and education of our future leaders. To achieve the goal of preserving the environment, the NCST’s programs are organized around four high-priority themes: environmentally responsible infrastructure and operations; multimodal travel and sustainable land use; zero-emission vehicle and fuel technologies; and institutional change.

Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy

The UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy (Policy Institute) was founded in 2011 to support the mission of relentless pursuit of knowledge, innovation, and collaboration by facilitating productive engagement between policymakers and University researchers on pressing energy and environmental issues.

Sustainable Freight

Freight movement is on the cusp of major transformations in the U.S. and worldwide. Yet to achieve very low levels of CO2 as well as pollutant emission reduction goals, complementary solutions will be needed. The Sustainable Freight Program evaluates goods movement patterns, supply chain management strategies, intermodal dynamics, new vehicle technologies, and new fuel options, along with infrastructure requirements, environmental impacts, and policy. Starting from the premise that the freight system is the economy in motion, our research is at the intersection of transportation, supply chain management, technology and policy.

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS+) Program 

The Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS) Program is a four-year multidisciplinary research consortium that brings together the world’s leading auto and truck OEMs, energy firms, new mobility companies, foundations and government agencies to understand sustainable vehicle and energy solutions. Since 2007 STEPS has carried out a wide body of interdisciplinary research projects analyzing and comparing potential transportation energy pathways across program areas including consumer demand and behavior; infrastructure system analysis; environmental, energy, and economic cost analysis; innovation and business strategy; vehicle technology evaluation; policy analysis; integrative scenarios; and understanding critical transition dynamics for sustainable transportation.

Transit Research Center

The UC Davis Transit Research Center asks the question, “What will it take to uplift and empower transit and transit use in the US?” Transit ridership has been on the decline for the past decade. Our research explores what will enable policy makers, communities, and transit agencies to support transit use, improve perceptions of transit and transit users, and allow transit in the US to thrive.

VMT, Land Use, and Equity Lab

The VMT, Land Use, and Equity Lab contributes to the goal of equitably reducing car dependence through research on policy implementation, equity analysis, VMT reduction, tools and modeling, the housing-transportation connection, and rural mobility.

Affiliated Research Centers & Initiatives

Active Transportation Resource Center

In 2013, California created the Active Transportation Program (ATP) with the goal to encourage increased use of active modes of transportation such as walking and biking throughout the state. The ATP provides funding to communities throughout California to support infrastructure projects, non-infrastructure projects and Plans to further these goals. Please visit the Caltrans ATP web site for information on program solicitations, deadlines, guidance, and procedures.

Consumer Energy Interfaces (cEnergi) Lab

cEnergi studies the potential for eco-feedback—information about resources and impacts of consumption relayed back to the consumer—to increase consumer awareness, the ability to make informed decisions, and motivation to use resources more responsibly. cEnergi designs and evaluates eco-feedback interfaces in a wide variety of applications, including in-vehicle displays to encourage fuel-efficient driving, smart home technologies that offer feedback and enable demand response, and web tools that promote electric vehicle adoption and lower emissions air travel choices. Visit cenergi.ucdavis.edu.

Energy and Efficiency Institute

The Energy and Efficiency Institute (EEI) at UC Davis is a leading university institution advancing impactful energy and energy efficiency solutions. We focus on addressing critical energy challenges and improving energy use through research, education, and engagement. The EEI is home to innovative research centers and programs in buildings, transportation, water, and agriculture & food production; has more than 45 affiliated faculty; and hosts an interdisciplinary graduate program in energy systems.

Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center

The Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center (PSR) is the regional university transportation center for U.S. Region 9 (California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands), funded by the US Department of Transportation, with matching funding from the California Department of Transportation and others. The METRANS Transportation Consortium at the University of Southern California leads the PSR in partnership with UC Davis; California State University, Long Beach; the University of California, Irvine; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Hawaii; Northern Arizona University; and Pima Community College. The PSR conducts an integrated, multidisciplinary program of research, education and technology transfer aimed at improving the mobility of people and goods throughout the region. Visit https://www.metrans.org/psr_utc_about.

Road Ecology Center

The UC Davis Road Ecology Center brings together researchers and policy makers from ecology and transportation to design sustainable transportation systems based on an understanding of the impact of roads on natural landscapes and human communities. Browse this website to learn more about the Center and the emerging science of Road Ecology.

UC Institute of Transportation Studies

The University of California Institute of Transportation Studies (UC ITS) is dedicated to advancing the state of the art in transportation engineering, planning, and policy. Established by the California Legislature in 1947, the UC ITS has branches at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and UCLA. The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 provides the UC ITS an annual allocation of $5 million to address questions and needs of local, regional and state governments in California. Visit www.ucits.org.

University of California Pavement Research Center

The University of California Pavement Research Center is dedicated to providing knowledge and using innovative research and sound engineering principles to improve pavement structures, materials, and technologies.

World Conference on Transport Research Society

The World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS) provides a forum for the interchange of ideas among transport researchers, managers, policy makers, and educators from all over the world, from a multi-modal, multi-disciplinary, and multi-sectoral perspective.

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