Transportation Database Development Using Floating Car Data

Evan Burton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In support of projects funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has received on average 4 million floating car data (FCD) points each day over a 3-year period. To handle data sets of this size, the Transportation & Hydrogen Systems Center at NREL has developed a series of transportation databases (Transportation Secure Data Center and Fleet DNA projects) to support real-world vehicle and transportation infrastructure analysis on a national scale. To ensure the quality of the FCD received by NREL and to ensure that data can be accessed and applied quickly and easily across transportation research disciplines, a customized data processing routine and database were required. 'Floating car data' is a general term for location data recorded by a vehicle or by a person traveling in a vehicle. FCD are used to support real-time traffic information systems and have proven to be beneficial in a large number of research applications. For large-scale traffic information systems, FCD are logged from smart phones using either the GPS included in the device, or if GPS is disabled, triangulation from the network. Additionally, in scientific applications FCD are oftentimes collected on a smaller scale using onboard GPS-enabled data logging systems. Through the fusion of real-time data and historically logged results, up-to-date and accurate vehicle operating information are provided in near real-time to support routing and operation decisions. The approach outlined within this paper builds upon methods developed for advanced traffic information systems to link FCD to the street of travel and further extends the link to data recorded by components within a vehicle. Linking vehicle component performance to the infrastructure a vehicle is operating within provides the path to assess vehicle and infrastructure interactions, going far beyond providing information on traffic flow alone.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages3
StatePublished - 2015
Event21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems and ITS America Annual Meeting 2014 - Detroit, Michigan
Duration: 7 Sep 201411 Sep 2014


Conference21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems and ITS America Annual Meeting 2014
CityDetroit, Michigan

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5400-62282


  • big data
  • database
  • floating car
  • GPS
  • transportation


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