By Catherine Showalter, MetroFreight Project Manager, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California
The METRANS Transportation Center was once again privileged to host Dr. Laetitia Dablanc as a Visiting Scholar from Paris, France for the month of July 2017. Laetitia is Director of Research at the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks (IFSTTAR), University of Paris-East. Her areas of research are freight transportation, freight and the environment, urban freight and logistics, rail freight, freight policies, and logistics sprawl.
The Volvo Research & Educational Foundations (VREF) have funded Laetitia’s research on urban freight as a team leader of the MetroFreight Center of Excellence, a partnership led by METRANS and including IFSTTAR, the University Transportation Research Center in New York, and the Korea Transport Institute. One area of her current work is instant deliveries. During her visit she conducted research on instant delivery practices in Los Angeles, interviewing companies and carriers. She has a special interest in Amazon Prime Now and the types and locations of urban warehouses involved in the L. A. Prime Now service (delivery within two hours/one hour).
A second aspect of her research is the use of autonomous vehicles in urban deliveries. During her stay she traveled to the San Francisco Bay area to visit the Renault-Nissan innovation lab in Sunnyvale. Renault's primary focus in Silicon Valley is advanced research on vehicle connectivity and related topics. Laetitia met with four leaders involved in autonomous driving: 1) Shad Laws, head of Autonomous Vehicle, Renault Innovation; 2) Sebastien Henot, Manager Business Model Innovation, Renault Innovation; 3) Claire Terrien, Manager Innovation Ecosystems, Renault Innovation; and 4) Armelle Guerin, Nissan lab. At the request of the Renault Nissan group, interested in developing urban freight knowledge, Laetitia presented Metrofreight and other urban freight research results. IFSTTAR, with the Renault-Nissan group, plans to open a PhD position on “Autonomous vehicles and urban deliveries” in early 2018.
To end her visit on a high note, Dr. Dablanc was the featured speaker for a research seminar at USC titled, Urban Freight Policy: Recent Developments in Paris on July 28. The City of Paris, a municipality in the center of the Paris region, the largest metropolitan area in Europe, has implemented many strategies to better manage urban freight. Laetitia reported on these recent strategies, emphasizing the technical and economic challenges they met, as well as their environmental benefits. A specific focus was on the new low emission zone in central Paris prohibiting access to old vans and trucks; on a recently constructed “logistics hotel” in the north of the city; and on several smaller scale city logistics innovations for last mile deliveries promoted by the city administration.
Dr. Dablanc received a PhD in transportation planning from Ecole des Ponts-ParisTech and a Master’s degree in city and regional planning from Cornell University. She was initially trained in policy analysis and economics at Science Po Paris.