Smart City Hackathon to leverage data hub

May 16, 2018

Dive Brief:
The City of Columbus, Ohio will host a three-day Smart City Hackathon starting May 18, which will provide open data for developers to try to solve transportation problems in the city.
Organizations are making data available around topics including parking management, access to food supply for food insecure families, and bridge height intelligence. Participants can also propose their own problems to work on over the weekend.
The city is inviting hardware and software developers, industrial and graphic designers and other citizens to participate for a $30 entry fee, which includes coaching from local tech firms and representatives of The Ohio State University.

South Bend tests new technology to assess road conditions

May 16, 2018

The city of South Bend is testing a new road assessment technology called RoadBotics in hopes it will be able to easier spot the roads most in need of construction.

“It’s part of the city’s theme to be a beta test city for new products, new technology,” said Deputy Director of Public Works Jitin Kain.

The data is collected for RoadBotics by cell phone video captured from a standard car driving the road. This could save manpower for the city. The city currently uses a PASER rating system, sending multiple crews out to visually assess the roads.

4 ways technology could ease Nashville’s traffic crunch

May 13, 2018

Politics, religion … and now traffic.

All are proving to be risky topics at any Nashville dinner party these days.

The failed Nashville transit plan managed to pit friends against friends and family against family, each side making very valid arguments to support their position but neither willing to budge.

There is still hope, though…

A.I.-enabled traffic lights
Surtrac, an innovative start-up that was spawned out of Carnegie Mellon University, has built an “artificial intelligence enabled traffic light system.” Combining A.I., cameras, radar and traffic theory research, traffic lights communicate with each other in real time to optimize traffic flow. So far, initial tests in Pittsburgh have reduced drive-times by 25 percent.

CMU president, computer science dean to attend White House AI summit

May 10, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University’s new president and the dean of its School of Computer Science will head to Washington on Thursday to attend a summit on artificial intelligence at the White House.

President Farnam Jahanian and Andrew Moore will join executives from nearly 40 companies, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Intel and Ford, and AI researchers and experts from other universities.

The gathering will focus on ways to encourage the use of AI in farming, health care and transportation and how the government can further fund research into technologies like machine learning, according to the Washington Post .

The meeting will include tech heavyweights Microsoft, Nvidia and Oracle and companies such as Land O’Lakes, MasterCard, Pfizer and United Airlines.

Are Self-Driving Cars Really Safer Than Human Drivers?

May 10, 2018

On this week’s If Then, Will Oremus and April Glaser talk about the hedge fund that’s gutting the newsrooms of local newspapers across the country—and racking up huge profits. They also discuss the futuristic news out of Google’s annual developer conference, including an A.I. that can hold a conversation and book you a dinner reservation.

Oremus is joined by professor Raj Rajkumar, a self-driving-car expert who serves as co-director of Carnegie Mellon’s autonomous-driving-research lab. They discuss the future of self-driving cars, but also how today’s technology stacks up to human drivers in terms of safety, and what’s behind the recent spate of crashes.

White House to hold artificial intelligence meeting with companies

May 9, 2018

The White House will convene a meeting on Thursday on the future of artificial intelligence in U.S. industry with major companies including Facebook Inc, Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc and Oracle Corp as well as senior government officials…

The Pentagon and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Health and Human Services, Labor and Transportation are due to take part in the daylong event that will look at artificial intelligence (AI) innovation and research and development and removing barriers to its application…

Facebook Vice President of AI Jerome Pesenti, Google senior research scientist Greg Corrado and the presidents of California Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University also are set to participate.

May 8, 2018

Since CES, the software underpinning Aptiv’s self-driving system has evolved. Then, software developed by Ottomatika, a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff purchased by Aptiv in 2015, controlled perception and vehicle movement. In the intervening months, engineers have integrated software from NuTonomy, the self-driving software startup Aptiv acquired in 2017 for $450 million.

Further, Aptiv has enhanced its mapping of the city. During the CES demos, vehicle systems controlled their own movements along public roads, but human safety drivers retook control in parking lots of the casinos and other destinations. An Aptiv spokesperson told C/D that the newly launched program will offer autonomous service all the way to pickup and drop-off spots in parking lots, which suggests the company has now mapped the applicable parking lots.

Project on detecting flaws in concrete wins CMU-Q award

May 7, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) awarded Fatma Tlili the Best Project award for her research into developing an automated process for detecting cracks and defects in concrete. Tlili was one of more than 50 researchers at the 2018 Meeting of the Minds symposium at CMU-Q.
Tlili, who is a graduating senior from CMU-Q’s Computer Science Programme, used a combination of image processing and deep learning techniques to identify and map potential cracks using images taken by drones. Gianni Di Caro, associate teaching professor of computer science at CMU-Q, advised Tlili on her project.
Michael Trick, the dean of CMU-Q, said, “At Carnegie Mellon, we often describe our research as ‘work that matters’ and we investigate questions that will have a real impact on the world. Fatma’s work embodies this approach, using deep learning to find a better way to preserve the integrity of buildings, tunnels and bridges.”

The Port Authority Can’t Fully Pilot BRT But It Can Try Out Some Of Its Tools

May 7, 2018

Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman said because BRT is an on-street system that will change traffic patterns, there’s no real way to pilot the full system; doing so would be too disruptive.

“But we can add some improvements without waiting for the full project, so we’re definitely looking at that,” she said.

Those possible improvements include signal prioritization or preemption, which helps keep traffic moving by ushering mass transit vehicles through busy intersections or corridors using smart traffic signals. Kelleman said Port Authority is working with both the City of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to get its buses talking with surrounding infrastructure.

Sorry Elon Musk, there’s no clear evidence Autopilot saves lives

May 4, 2018

But this doesn’t necessarily prove anything about Autopilot. There are many factors affecting the safety of Tesla vehicles. We’ve already mentioned automatic emergency braking as one factor that makes Tesla cars safer. But even without any of these technologies, we should expect Tesla cars to be safer than average just based on the kind of car Tesla sells—mostly big, luxury vehicles—and the kind of customer Tesla attracts as a result.

“To own a Tesla, mostly you have to be mature enough to amass enough wealth to buy one,” said Philip Koopman, an automotive safety expert at Carnegie Mellon. “You tend to get more middle-aged drivers who are in the safest demographic.”…

“Humans aren’t that bad at steering,” Koopman told Ars. “If you automate both speed and steering, drivers pay less attention.” That, Koopman argues, means that a driver-assistance system that “does things like lane-departure warnings might actually be safer than a full Autosteer system,” because it keeps drivers engaged with the driving task.

Aptiv, Lyft launch Las Vegas fleet of self-driving cars powered by Pittsburgh tech

May 3, 2018

A fleet of self-driving cars developed in Pittsburgh will soon be roaming the streets of Las Vegas.

Aptiv on Thursday is launching 30 self-driving BMWs to offer rides to people using Lyft’s app and network, the company announced.

This is the first large-scale deployment of Aptiv’s autonomous technology.

Aptiv and Lyft first partnered with Lyft in January to offer self-driving rides in Las Vegas during CES , the massive consumer electronics show held in the city each year. The pair gave more than 400 autonomous rides to locations on the Las Vegas Strip during the week-long conference. Tests continued after CES ended. People using Lyft’s app can opt-in to the self-driving car program and then hail an autonomous vehicle from certain locations around the city…

Aptiv spun off from Delphi in 2017 to pursue self-driving and advanced automotive technologies being developed by the company. Delphi established its self-driving presence in Pittsburgh when it bought Ottomatika, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company.

There Are Holes In Elon Musk’s Plans To Tunnel Through L.A. With Boring Co.

April 30, 2018

“The concept of car elevators on skates add a bunch of engineering challenges, such as reliability and safety of the elevator, loading and unloading times, and the number of dedicated areas in a city you’d need to do this at scale,” said Constantine Samaras, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

He’s not sure the skates will work but sees potential benefits from Musk’s new venture. “The best-case outcome from The Boring Co. is innovation and dramatic cost reduction in using existing tunnel boring machines to construct tunnels for high-volume rapid transit systems.”

Why Google, Uber, and Facebook Are Flocking to This Quiet Rust Belt City

April 30, 2018

The old factories and warehouses dotting the Alle­gheny River make up Robotics Row, where Edge Case Research–which, among other things, tests self-driving-car soft­­ware–works out of 19th-century stables…

Dave Mawhinney is connected to power players like Craig Markovitz, founder of Blue Belt Technologies, and Robb Myer, founder of Nowait. But before he joined Carnegie Mellon as executive director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship and its Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneur­ship, he co-founded mSpoke, a content-recommendation engine acquired by LinkedIn in 2010.

You’re no entrepreneur until you’ve been hit by “a two-by-Frank,” Carnegie Mellon’s Mawhinney jokes, referring to Frank Demmler, who takes credit for more than 500 companies, some 10,000 jobs, and $1 billion in investment capital. A managing director at Riverfront Ventures and a VP at Innovation Works, Demmler is a local startup whisperer.

Waymo Vs. Tesla: Who Is Winning The AV Tech War?

April 30, 2018

Tasha Keeney, an analyst for Ark Invest, tells The Verge, “I feel like everyone agrees Waymo’s technology is the best right now, but I think a lot of people are underestimating the power of the data set that Tesla has. She says Tesla’s strategy has more risk (like that ever bothered Elon) but “It could pay off for them in the end. If Tesla solves [self-driving cars without LIDAR], everyone else is going to be kicking themselves.”

That’s a huge “if,” says Raj Rajkumar, the co-director of the connected and autonomous driving research lab at Carnegie Mellon University which is sponsored by General Motors. He thinks Tesla may find itself at a big disadvantage without Lidar. “We don’t think the hardware will be sufficient to do that, and I don’t think Tesla is particularly anywhere close to getting to [fully] driverless operation,” he says.

To Make Autonomous Vehicles Safe, We Have to Rethink “Autonomous” and “Safe”

April 30, 2018

Even Level 3 consumer vehicles remain merely an aspiration, with Audi positioning its 2019 A8 sedan to be the first to liberate the driver’s attention. “We might see some surprises in the next few years,” says Costa Samaras, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and some technologies in the future are closer than they appear, but, he says, “the public feels that these [Level 4–5 cars] are right here right now, when in reality they’re not that close.”

While manufacturers might downplay how far off these higher levels of autonomy really are, eliding these distinctions can leave policymakers and the public with an exaggerated impression of what’s about to hit the market. Worse, drivers overestimate the capabilities of existing vehicles, relying on Level 2 systems to dodge obstacles or even to let them drive while intoxicated.

When we talk about AV safety, then, it’s essential to specify just how autonomous the cars in question are. Some vehicles will only feature partial autonomy, in which case they shouldn’t have to pass a full driving test—but then, Samaras says, “companies [should] make it very explicit what the driver’s responsibilities [and] the vehicle’s capabilities are.”

Meet the researcher building robots to help disabled people travel safer

April 30, 2018

Significant strides have been made to ensure our society is more inclusive of people with disabilities in terms of building accessibility and design.

But, increasingly, we are seeing technology being developed to bridge this gap even further, which is what Prof Aaron Steinfeld of the Robotics Institute in Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is trying to achieve…

Another project in our lab is trying to make transit vehicle information on smartphones more useful for people with disabilities. It is not a big leap to imagine a future where a bus rider with a disability uses an app to reach a train station and is then met at the door by a robot that guides them to the correct platform.

Alexa on wheels? What is Amazon planning with its top-secret robot program

April 24, 2018

Little is known about what Amazon is up to with its new, top-secret robotic project.

But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating.

Is Amazon creating Alexa on wheels, an artificial intelligence that can follow you throughout your house, tuning lights on and off, answering your questions and playing music to keep you company?

Or will the robot stake out your front door, wait for deliveries from Amazon and make sure they are secure?

Or maybe it’s something completely different….

Amazon also has to make the robots valuable while making them affordable, said Aaron Steinfeld, an associate research professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Steinfeld’s research focuses in part on robots designed to interact with humans.

Robots have to be intelligent, like Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices. Alexa, however, can store its intelligence in the cloud, meaning its devices, like an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, can use cheaper hardware and keep costs down.

Mini, Urban-X Building Cities of the Future

April 24, 2018

And that’s where the Urban-X initiative comes in. A collaboration between Mini and venture fund Urban Us, Urban-X is a start-up incubator, which is a fancy way of saying “we throw money and expertise at people with clever ideas that have an actual chance of seeing daylight.”

These ideas all revolve around improving the urban landscape and the experience of people who work and live there; but they can range from projects that directly impact automotive technology (such as Lunewave’s high-performance radar sensor system), to projects that address urban infrastructure (Roadbotics’ automated pavement-assessment technology), to the decidedly quirky (Sencity’s TetraBIN, an interactive trash can that’s connected to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). In terms of real-world implementation, they can be as immediately physical as Upshift’s car delivery service, or as abstract as Qucit’s AI-optimized city management software (which in no way resembles the basis of a summer sci-fi blockbuster).

The 25 Ways AI Can Revolutionize Transportation: From Driverless Trains to Smart Tracks

April 24, 2018

With massive breakthroughs in smart technologies being reported every month, it won’t be long until our transport industries are dominated by AI.

Here are just some of the ways artificial intelligence is changing the face of transport, and what we can expect in the near future.

6. SURTRAC by Rapid Flow Technologies: Decentralizing Traffic Flow
One particularly promising traffic control system is SURTRAC by Rapid Flow Technologies. Designed specifically for urban areas, it allows lights at intersections to respond to vehicle flows on an individual level, instead of as part of a centralized system.

Pittsburgh-based company introduces road inspection technology to French Creek group

April 24, 2018

Every year municipal governments find themselves confronted by roads that need repaving and limited budgets with which to address the problem. Technology developed in Pittsburgh that provides concrete data for prioritizing the roads in need of repair could be hitting the pavement in Crawford County’s future construction seasons.

Representatives of RoadBotics, a start-up launched out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2016, gave a presentation on the company’s road inspection technology during the French Creek Council of Governments quarterly meeting Thursday.

“You can use this data to make all your plans,” Product Manager Nikhil Ranga said of the system that uses vehicle-mounted cameras to collect images of every inch of roads in a given municipality.

Carnegie Mellon lab cleared for take off at Pittsburgh International Airport

April 20, 2018

Raj Rajkumar, director of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute, said researchers could work on placing sensors around the airport that would give travelers better information about wait times or how long it takes to get from one place to another. Both Rajkumar and Cassotis stressed the work will likely come out of new ideas proposed once researchers spend more time at the airport.

Rajkumar said Metro21 has secured funding from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Heinz Endowments to begin work at the airport. Additional funding will come through state and federal research grants and from companies working on smart city and airport innovations.

“The goal is to make the airport smarter while making it more convenient and usable,” Rajkumar said.

Airport, CMU partner on innovation lab

April 20, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh International Airport will partner to create the Aviation Innovation Laboratory that will develop and deploy high-tech projects around the airport.
The lab was announced Thursday during a news conference at
Pittsburgh International Airport with Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis and CMU President Farnham Jahanian.
The memorandum of understanding builds on three years of previous work between the airport and CMU. CMU faculty and students from its Metro 21: Smart Cities Institute will work on projects throughout the airport.


April 20, 2018

If Tesla can develop autonomous cars without that tech, Keeney says that would be a huge advantage. “It’s a riskier strategy but it could pay off for them in the end,” she explains. “If Tesla solves [self-driving cars without LIDAR], everyone else is going to be kicking themselves.”

That’s a huge “if.” Without LIDAR data, Tesla may find itself at a disadvantage, according to Raj Rajkumar, the co-director of General Motors-sponsored connected and autonomous driving research lab at Carnegie Mellon University. (CMU is a school so famous for its robotics chops that Uber poached dozens of staffers in 2015.)

LIDAR is seen by many in the industry as an essential tool for creating cars that can drive themselves, and Rajkumar says there is heavy skepticism about Tesla’s approach. “We don’t think the hardware will be sufficient to do that, and I don’t think Tesla is particularly anywhere close to getting to [fully] driverless operation,” he says.

Self-driving cars mean new tech, but they also mean new-age vehicle technicians

April 20, 2018

As part of a new 10-year strategic plan, Rosedale Technical College introduced a five-prong initiative on Wednesday to proactively adapt its curriculum to match industry needs — in the autonomous car industry and beyond.

The nonprofit located in Kennedy Township will begin offering a certification program for autonomous vehicle technicians.

“Autonomous vehicles, they’re here. And not just the test vehicles, but the semi-autonomous features in the cars you’re driving today, self-braking, self-parking,” said Dennis Wilke, president and director.

In about a year, he estimates, the school should have a state-of-the-art autonomous vehicles lab. Rosedale is partnering with national firms like Snap-on, a tools designer and manufacturer based in Kenosha, Wis., to determine what the space should look like. The firms will also provide equipment.

Rosedale isn’t the only school that offers programs for highly automated vehicle specialists.

Community College of Allegheny County offers a two-year automotive technology program at its campus in Oakdale to teach students to service and repair high-tech vehicles.

Tampa and University of South Florida to Study Smart Transportation

April 18, 2018

The MOU comes after more than two years of work on the part of the city and university to form an agreement to investigate smart cities technologies. The partnership offers the city a mechanism for elevating conversations around smart transportation projects it’s already involved with “to the national level,” said Bhide.

“The way we would do that is USF and Tampa would then take the city and university partnership and become part of MetroLab Network,” said Bhide, referring to the network of more than 35 city-university partners that use data and analytics to solve real-world urban problems. USF and Tampa will apply to join this collaborative.

“That does plug us into a national dialogue now, where we can learn from what other communities in the country are doing, and also share some of our unique perspectives,”