CTAA Expo Attends Connected Vehicle and Robotics Tour at Carnegie Mellon University

June 15, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

June 14, 2018

CMU hosted participants of the CTAA Expo for a two-part tour of an intersection equipped with Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) followed by a tour of National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC). Participants expressed their excitement to take the information and technology back to their home cities to help improve traffic and mobility.

China’s ambition to powerthe world’s electric cars took a huge leap forward this week

June 14, 2018
Posted in News

In a public offering on June 11 in Shenzhen, battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) raised nearly $1 billion to fund ambitious expansion plans, and its stock has been shooting up every day since. Thanks largely to the company’s new plants, China will be making
70 percent of the world’s electric-vehicle batteries by 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)…

China is already the world’s largest car market, but its domestic businesses sell only a small fraction of vehicles and components globally.  “China sees EVs as the way to assert their global dominance in automotive,” says Venkat Viswanathan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, whose work focuses on
batteries. “To make it work you need scale, and they do scale better than anyone else.”
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Elon Musk’s Boring Co. asked to build Chicago high-speed transit between O’Hare and downtown

June 14, 2018
Posted in News

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will formally announce Thursday that his administration is entering one-on-one negotiations with Musk company to build the high-speed system that will utilize electric vehicles running through twin underground tunnels, said Adam Collins, the mayor’s spokesman.

The effort has been met with some skepticism from experts.

“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,” Constantine Samaras, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told Forbes earlier this year.
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Massive growth in Big Infrastructure could spell inspection changes

June 14, 2018
Posted in News

Thus, the biggest challenge of all when inspecting Big Infrastructure is size. Infrastructure like pipelines, utility poles, and the like are big, vast, and require a close and considered look. Yet, the devil is always in the detail. For example, those hundreds of thousands of bridges around the world carrying across ravines, rivers and roadways all need someone to go look – closely and carefully – and see how they’re holding up.

RoadBotics has learned a few things about the challenges of inspecting Big Infrastructure. The company uses AI and standard smartphones to inspect road surfaces and other assets accurately and inexpensively for private and public organizations across the US and around the world. What has been learned from this, arguably, is transferable to any inspection regime, particularly those short on people, money, and time:

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PennDOT To Discuss Regulations With Autonomous Vehicle Operators

June 13, 2018
Posted in News

“To make sure that the regulations aren’t too onerous,” he said. “We want safety and security for our citizens, but we also want companies who feel that Pennsylvania is a place where they can do innovative things.”

There are five entities that test self-driving cars in Pittsburgh: Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University and Uber.

Aptiv, Aurora and Uber declined to comment. In statements made to 90.5 WESA, both Argo AI and Carnegie Mellon University said they look forward to continuing discussions with city and state officials to ensure safe testing and safe deployment of self-driving vehicles.
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What We’ve Learned From Tesla Autopilot and Self-Driving System Crashes

June 11, 2018
Posted in News

The crashes involving Tesla vehicles striking stationary objects—the crash attenuator in California, a stopped fire truck in Utah in May, and another fire truck in California in January—show the limitations of relying on just cameras and radar, says Raj Rajkumar, director of the Connected and Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Camera-based systems have to be trained to recognize specific images, and if they encounter something in the real world that doesn’t match their expectations, the radar has to pick it up, Rajkumar said.

Tesla’s system missed the fire trucks, and there was also an incident reported in China where a Tesla crashed into a stopped garbage truck. The company’s technology appears to work well with moving objects, but not stationary ones, Rajkumar said.

“Consumers need to be extremely cautious about the claims being made,” Rajkumar said. “There’s a lot of hype.”
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Pittsburgh, Ford announce challenge program to find mobility solutions

June 6, 2018
Posted in News

Mayor Bill Peduto and John Kwant, vice president of Ford City Solutions, announced Tuesday that Pittsburgh will be the first city to work with Ford’s City of Tomorrow Challenge. The new program calls on the public to identify and then offer solutions for mobility problems with the help of a team of private experts, with one or two ideas receiving a total of $100,000 to move ahead to a demonstration project…

Mr. Kwant said Ford’s decision to kick off the program here evolved after Ford’s announcement in February 2017 that it would invest $1 billion over five years in Pittsburgh-based Argo AI to develop technology for a self-driving vehicle. He called Pittsburgh “the ideal partner” because of its leadership in areas such as smart traffic signals through Carnegie Mellon University.
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Demystifying the future of connected and autonomous vehicles

June 6, 2018
Posted in News

To answer such questions, and understand future mobility, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are deploying advanced modeling and simulation tools. And in a collaborative three-year project, supported by DOE’s SMART (Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation) Mobility Consortium, Argonne researchers are using these tools to predict the impact of CAVs on energy and mobility in metropolitan areas…

Argonne’s work advances the SMART Consortium’s mission to increase our understanding of the impacts that will arise from future mobility systems. Project collaborators include the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of New South Wales, Texas A&M University, the University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Washington, George Mason University, as well as multiple cities and planning agencies.
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A homegrown revolution The next generation of wireless technology, 5G, is being developed in the U.S.—and is set to transform life as we know it.

June 6, 2018
Posted in News

“[5G] will be the vehicle for technical innovations on multiple fronts,” noted Swarun Kumar, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He expects the advancement to usher in a new era of creativity from American entrepreneurs. One area where he sees the potential for major improvements is in immersive tech and high-definition video, with applications that extend beyond gaming and entertainment. Imagine a future where an architect, wearing a VR headset, could see a building as it was being designed? Another sector ripe for innovation is the Internet of Things (IoT), which can benefit from the ability to connect more devices and crunch more data. Here the possibilities that arise from the availability of 5G infrastructure are vast—everything from highly-efficient smart power grids to hospital monitoring systems.
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Easy street: How we can use AI for infrastructure maintenance

May 30, 2018
Posted in News

While admittedly more technical solutions are available for assessing road surfaces, including inspection vehicles that use combinations of RADAR, high-definition cameras and LiDAR, these methods often come at a steep cost in terms of money and labor, a cost that dramatically limits the frequency of use and, for smaller municipalities, the affordability.

RoadBotics takes the view that still-better-than-good-enough data fidelity, extreme ease of use and vanishingly small implementation cost makes for a powerful tool for roadway managers to use in maintaining a high road surface and roadway quality. “It’s cutting-edge technology. This has brought us up to the next level,” said Richard Albert, director of public works in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
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Autonomous trucks will haul your stuff before you ride in a self-driving car

May 29, 2018
Posted in News

The landscape probably won’t transform dramatically over the next few years, says Raj Rajkumar, IEEE Fellow and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “The first step will be to establish autonomous driving from exit-to-exit.” A driver pilots the truck onto the highway engages the driving system then takes a backseat. As the truck gets close to the destination, the driver takes back control of the “last mile.” So, a human will deal with the complexities of urban and suburban contexts, piloting the vehicle through constrained roadways and loading docks…

“But over the next 20 years, as self-driving technology develops, the process will evolve to include last-mile delivery services,” says Rajkumar. “[It will be] taking freight from Point A to B with no human involvement. In that scenario, trucks could ride from manufacturer right through to buyers. Drivers do nothing but customer service.”
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Behind the Uber Self-Driving Car Crash: a Failure to Communicate

May 29, 2018
Posted in News

“The system knew that a braking maneuver needed to happen, but the engineers never decided that this was a good piece of information for the driver to have,” she said. “Why have a driver at all if you’re not willing to share that? They need better cognitive support for the driver.”

That could be as simple as a big red light that flashes on the dashboard saying BRAKE, or perhaps more appropriately, a series of both diagnostic and emergency alerts, said Raj Rajkumar, the head of autonomous vehicle research at Carnegie Mellon University. Six seconds might have been enough to stop the car, swerve, or reduce the severity of the impact; statistically, the odds of pedestrians surviving collision at 25 MPH compared to 43 MPH (the speed at which the car was traveling) are significantly higher.
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Funded study would brainstorm future of Route 65

May 29, 2018
Posted in News

The road stretches through 19 communities along the east bank of the Ohio River. Hockenberry said the portion of road to be studied starts around the McKees Rocks Bridge and ends in Rochester Borough in Beaver County.

Bringing smart tech to more rural roads is an area of study that Mobility 21, a United States Department of Transportation University Transportation Center, finds important. The center recently awarded the project a $90,000 grant.

“Recently there’s been a lot of attention on what is referred to as smart tech for mobility, and how that can be applied to cities and an urban area,” said Stan Caldwell, Mobility 21’s executive director.
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Feds: Uber self-driving SUV saw pedestrian; did not brake

May 25, 2018
Posted in News

Uber had disabled the Volvo SUV’s emergency braking systems for the company’s self-driving tests and relied on the safety driver to intervene.

Raj Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and head of the university’s self-driving car research, called that system design a fatal flaw.

“Given that humans having a tendency to be distracted, not alerting the operator when an evasive maneuver was called for, this points to deep-rooted problems in the decision-making within Uber’s autonomous vehicle teams,” Rajkumar wrote to the Tribune-Review on Thursday.

Rajkumar said if the car could have slowed itself to less than 25 mph in the second or so before it hit Elaine Herzberg, she may have survived.
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Self-driving Uber did not have emergency braking turned on when it hit pedestrian, NTSB says

May 25, 2018
Posted in News

Uber may have been seeking “to reduce the number of ‘false positives,’ where the computer potentially misclassifies a situation and the automatic emergency braking engages unnecessarily,” said Costa Samaras, an automated vehicle expert and assistant engineering professor at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. “False positives like that could also be dangerous, especially at higher speeds.”

Samaras said that instead of false positives, there appeared to be a false negative in this case.

“The car saw the pedestrian six seconds before impact but misclassified them until 1.3 seconds before impact,” he said. “Even at that point, the computer determined that emergency braking was needed, but the function was disabled and there is no mechanism to alert the driver.”

“We know that humans are a terrible backup system. We’re easily distracted, and we have slower reaction times,” Samaras added. “Alerting the driver to these types of situations before the crash seems like a no-brainer.”
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ASCE 2018 Innovation Contest Winners Provide Creative Solutions

May 24, 2018
Posted in News

The third annual edition makes it nearly a tradition. Each spring, the ASCE Innovation Contest spotlights creative, talented engineers and their brilliant new ideas.

The 2018 crop of winners features an impressive group of future-focused solutions.

This year’s contest resulted in three overall-award recipients:

“RoadBotics” received the Overall Greatest Impact on Delivering the ASCE Grand Challenge Award.

Submitted by the team of Jeff Barker, Mark DeSantis, Miguel Dickson, Christoph Mertz, and Benjamin Schmidt, RoadBotics uses smartphone and artificial intelligence technology to monitor the condition of concrete and asphalt surfaces.
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CCAC is training technicians and shop owners on the benefits of propane powered vehicles

May 23, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

May 22, 2018

The Community College of Allegheny County held a training for technicians and shop owners on the benefits of propane powered vehicles.  The session included discussion on finding technicians to do repairs and the competition among repair shops for mechanical talent.  Bob Koch gave a brief talk regarding Vehicle to Vehicle, Vehicle to Infrastructure, intelligent transportation, and the need for training.

Austria’s Pioneers Conference: The Hub For Global Early-Stage Startups, Investors

May 22, 2018
Posted in News

This year, the Pioneers organizers added a one-day Govtech event, a day ahead of the main event, where politicians, public sector CIOs (San Francisco, Palo Alto…), startups, corporations, and investors will discuss the latest trends in Citizen Collaboration, Blockchain, and Security.

“Pioneers has an explicit and thorough focus on core smart city solutions, more (in substance) than the other conferences,” said Mark DeSantis, the CEO of Pittsburg-based RoadBotics who was selected to pitch at the event. “Also, they’re making a great tool to connect participants with decision makers. For example, I’m meeting with officials from the City of Vienna to pitch our solution.”
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IS TESLA’S AUTOPILOT SAFE? FINDING OUT DEMANDS BETTER DATA

May 21, 2018
Posted in News

Still, it’s plausible that Autopilot and its ilk save lives. More computer control should minimize the fallout when human drivers get distracted, sleepy, or drunk. “Elon’s probably right in that the number of crashes caused by this is going to be less than the ones that are going to be avoided,” says Costa Samaras, a civil engineer who studies electric and autonomous vehicles at Carnegie Mellon University.1 “But that doesn’t change how we interact with, regulate, and buy this technology right now.” In other words: It’s never too early to ask questions.
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This self-driving car relies on spinning lasers to navigate down rural roads

May 21, 2018
Posted in News

“This is actually quite similar to how humans drive,” Ort points out. People might have an ultimate destination in mind, but when actually maneuvering the car on the road, they’re likely just looking ahead and driving towards an ever-changing point they can see in front of them.

Ultimately, he sees the tech as one way to “bring the autonomous vehicles out of the city.”

That’s a philosophy that Christoph Mertz, a principal project scientist at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, agrees with. Rural areas can be “neglected,” he says. “If these autonomous vehicles don’t drive in rural areas, then the elderly there might be stuck in their houses because nobody can drive them.”
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$1 Rides On Elon Musk’s Space-Age Subway May Be A Stretch, But His Bricks Sound Great

May 21, 2018
Posted in News

Constantine Samaras, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, has pointed out that Musk’s underground transit system, which would use a series of street-level elevators to lower Loop pods into the tunnels and then run them skate-like platforms at high speed, is a complex one with numerous engineering challenges.

“Cutting holes in the street and dropping down through utilities all over town is not a great idea. It’s expensive, it’s got maintenance problems, and you’re better served with big hub stations on a cost-per-rider basis,” Samaras told Forbes.

But there’s an upside: His efforts may shake up the status quo.

“We’re ready for disruption in urban infrastructure. This might not be the one, but let’s see what happens,” he said.

Heavy public turnout for the Thursday evening event, held at the Leo Baeck Temple on the west side, was also encouraging.

“It’s exciting to see that people are caring about urban infrastructure, that you had people lining up to hear about hole digging,” Samaras said. “I think that’s pretty cool.
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Metro21: Smart Cities Institute Podcast with Raj Rajkumar

May 21, 2018
Posted in News

Tune into this podcast for an interview with internationally leading connected and automated vehicle researcher Professor Raj Rajkumar from Carnegie Mellon University.

Metro21: Smart Cities Institute is a campus-wide initiative at Carnegie Mellon University dedicated to the research, development, and deployment of projects aimed at improving the quality of life in metropolitan areas. The mission of this podcast is to introduce a wider audience to our work. There are so many innovative projects being developed and deployed here at Carnegie Mellon, and we want to give the public a chance to be a part of our journey.
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Director of CMU’s Mobility21 National University Transportation Center Discusses Urban Modeling at the Modeling the World’s Systems Conference

May 21, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

May 21, 2018

The University of Pittsburgh celebrated their first year of the School of Computing and Information with a conference that focused on Modeling the World’s Systems. The goal of the conference was rational analysis and management of complicated system and an unusually diverse network of stakeholders. Prof. Raj Rajkumar, Director of CMU’s Mobility21 National University Transportation Center joined D. Tyler Gourley, Vice President, Hillman Family Foundations, Steve Smith, Director, CMU Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Laboratory and Christina Mair, University of Pittsburgh on the Modeling Urban Systems Panel Presentation.

“RoadBotics” Receives ASCE’s Overall Greatest Impact Award

May 17, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

May 17, 2018

The CMU Robotics Institute spinoff, “RoadBotics” received the Overall Greatest Impact Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) annual Innovation Contest.  RoadBoatics also received awards in subcategories including Most Feasible in the Sustainable Engineering category and Most Feasible, Most Innovative and Best Value in the Internet of Things category. RoadBotics uses smartphone and artificial intelligence technology to monitor the condition of concrete and asphalt surfaces.

South Bend tests new technology to assess road conditions

May 16, 2018
Posted in News

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.
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