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Software Solution for New Vehicle Operating Cost Models
AuthorVettath Gopinath, Arjun
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Estimating vehicle operating costs (VOC) allows individuals and organizations to make informed decisions about vehicle usage. As a wide variety of cars and roadway conditions exist, a relatively large amount of input must be provided to any VOC model. Developed as part of a civil engineering research project funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, five VOC models were run initially in Microsoft Excel. While this early solution was practical and operational, to improve usability, including the efficiency of data input, the flexibility of running the models, and presentation of results, an alternative solution, a web-based application, was also designed and implemented. The VOC models that can be run on both Excel and the Web-based application are fuel economy, oil consumption, tire wear, mileage-related vehicle depreciation, and repair and maintenance. This thesis presents the web-based implementation of the vehicle operating costs models. It starts with an introduction to the use of automobiles, fuel costs, and the popularity of web applications. Then it covers background on the vehicle operating costs research, moving on to explain interactive systems and user experience design. After looking at some of the related works, it elaborates on the software engineering aspects and related procedures performed as part of the web-based application’s design and implementation. Next, it presents various scenarios of use, going through all the pages of the VOC web application. The thesis also describes the user study performed to compare the web application with the MS Excel interface for efficiency and effectiveness. Several dependent variables were measured and analyzed, including task completion time and number of incorrect data entries. The results obtained showed that the web-based solution consistently outperformed the Excel-based solution, although the latter received some positive feedback as well. Several directions of possible future work are also outlined in the thesis.