AASHTO Committee on Construction Meeting Tours NavLab

August 15, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

August 15, 2018

The AASHTO Committee on Construction Meeting was held in Pittsburgh this year and attendees were able to tour CMU’s NavLab. The tour included presentations from Christoph Mertz of CMU’s Robotic’s Institute and Mobility21 Director, Raj Rajkumar. Attendees were from different DOT’s from around the country, who were eager to talk AV, policy and have a seat in the autonomous vehicles in the NavLab.

UTC Researcher Maxine Eskenazi Publishes New Book and Wins Best Paper Award

August 14, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

August 14, 2018

UTC Researcher Maxine Eskenazi, along with Laurence Devillers and Joseph Mariani recently published a new book called “Advanced Social Interaction with Agents.” She also published a paper called “Zero-Shot Dialog Generation with Cross-Domain Latent Actions” with Tiancheng Zhao that won best paper award from SigDIAL.

Can electricity use predict a bad morning commute?

August 13, 2018
Posted in News

Why are some morning commutes so much worse than others?

New research shows that nighttime and early-morning energy use can be a good predictor of morning traffic congestion.

Sean Qian, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and Ph.D. student Pinchao Zhang created a model that mined data on electricity consumption from 322 homes in Austin, Texas, and used artificial intelligence to predict what traffic would look like the next morning.

The anonymous electricity data was collected by Pecan Street Inc., which had enrolled hundreds of homes in the Austin area in an advanced metering infrastructure, or smart meter, program that tracks energy consumption. Travel time data came from the National Performance Management Research Data Set.
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Can dynamic pricing help ease Pittsburghers’ parking headaches?

August 13, 2018
Posted in News

Dynamic pricing was first tested in Pittsburgh in 2013, when Mark Fichman and Stephen Spear, both professors at Carnegie Mellon University’s [CMU] Tepper School of Business, designed a pilot program to see if dynamic pricing would make it easier to park near the university.

Using data they gathered, Fichman and Spear started submitting requests for rate adjustments to PPA every month to balance the supply and demand for parking on four streets adjacent to CMU.

“[If the] price is too low … the parking gets all filled up and basically you arrive there and you can’t park,” Fichman said. “If the price is too high, no one parks there. So finding the right price is kind of key.”
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Steering the future in the right direction

August 13, 2018
Posted in News

As part of a commitment to be leaders in the future of transportation technology, five state agencies and seven academic institutions in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania formed a multi-state partnership…

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) also are founding members of the Smart Belt Coalition.

“We recognize that our customers do not see agency boundaries and that we must work with other agencies to prepare for connected and automated vehicles while delivering safety, mobility and customer value,” said Leslie Richards, PTC Chair and PennDOT Secretary of Transportation.

Pennsylvania has taken a leading role to lay the groundwork for highly automated vehicles (HAV). Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has been researching this technology for decades and has played a key role in attracting important HAV players to Pittsburgh. PennDOT began working with the university on this topic in 2013, and in 2016 formed an Autonomous Vehicle Task Force to develop guidance and proposed legislation to oversee HAV development in a safe and effective manner.
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The next major innovation in batteries might be here

August 13, 2018
Posted in News

In its discharged state, the Pellion battery has its lithium ions sitting snugly inside the cathode. The magic happens when the battery is charged for the first time, and the lithium ions travel from the cathode and deposit as a layer of lithium metal on the copper anode. The first charge is carried out in a state when the battery is completely sealed from the outside environment, and thus the newly formed layer of lithium metal is protected. This configuration is called “zero-lithium” or “lithium-free.”

“It is quite an impressive feat,” says Venkat Viswanathan, a battery expert at Carnegie Mellon University.
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UTC Spin-off, Roadbotics Uses Their Technology to Improve the Roads of Montgomery, Alabama

August 7, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

August 6, 2018

UTC Spin-off company, Roadbotics, has partnered with Montgomery, Alabamda to analyze 200 miles of roads and improve upon their binary system of road rating. City officials are eager to use the new technology to decide what roads need to be repaired. Director of Public Works in Montgomery said that Roadbotics was cheaper then sending out workers and that it would take subjectivity out of deciding paving needs.

Full article

How much do Uber’s ride-hailing services actually contribute to the Pittsburgh economy?

August 6, 2018
Posted in News

Lee Branstetter, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for the Future of Work, noted that ride-hailing in general makes it possible for residents and visitors to patronize places they may otherwise forgo.
Most businesses have the ability to accommodate more customers than they currently do with the resources they have, Mr. Branstetter noted.

“If Uber is allowing more people to go more places and spend
more money,” he said, “it’s allowing businesses to generate more output without having to actually purchase an equivalent amount of inputs.”

In other words, with the same setup, a business can make more money if more people are stopping in. That increases gross regional product.
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Chris Hendrickson gave keynote at the University Transportation Center for Advance Multimodal Mobility Solutions and Education Research Symposium

August 6, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

August 6, 2018

Chris Hendrickson, Director of Traffic21 Institute, gave a keynote presentation at the University Transportation Center for Advance Multimodal Mobility Solutions and Education Research Symposium today in Charlotte, NC. His talk was titled ‘Transition to Connected and Automated Vehicles.’ He also served as a judge for the student poster competition. Pictured are Hendrickson and some of the symposium participants.

City hopes $12 million in paving needs can be managed with high-tech solution

August 2, 2018
Posted in News

City leaders and citizens can look forward to a more accurate scope of the city’s $12 million in paving needs after a high-tech survey company wrapped up its work this weekend.

Montgomery announced last week that it had partnered with Pittsburgh-based Roadbotics to analyze some of the city’s worst roads to improve upon their binary system of road rating. The new analysis will rate about 200 miles of road. Officials hope the new technology will make picking roads for repair less subjective as budget talks draw near and the annual tussle over paving needs begins.

“We have been making a really big effort toward open data and smart cities initiatives and things that can help us with our operations, things that can inform us maybe a little better,” said Chris Conway, director of public works. The road survey will accompany a slate of other data portals on the city’s website.
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EQT’s use of technology helps improve truck safety

August 2, 2018
Posted in News

Trucks hauling water and doing other duties for EQT Corp. and its contractors are expected to drive 24 million miles all told this year. Safety on the road is a top priority for the Pittsburgh-based natural gas driller, and over the past year, EQT (NYSE: EQT) has been rolling out more safety measures.

The initiatives are partly hardware, like incorporating an operations center for its water dispatch and scheduling as well as installing GPS and cameras on its water trucks. But they’re also using the power of big data — and the help of Carnegie Mellon University professors — to gather data from its operations and analyze it to find trends and figure out ways to improve safety and cost-effectiveness.
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Waymo’s Self-Driving Cars Are Near: Meet the Teen Who Rides One Every Day

August 1, 2018
Posted in News

For the past year, Kyla Jackson has been one of the only teenagers in the world who gets a ride to high school from a robot.

When she’s ready to start her day, Kyla summons a self-driving car using the Waymo app on her phone. Five minutes later a Chrysler Pacifica run by the autonomous vehicle arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., stops at her home in Chandler, Arizona. She slides open the door, fastens her seat belt, and hits a blue button above her head to set the car in motion. It’s a minivan covered in goofy-looking sensors, but it’s the coolest ride at her school…

While Waymo’s trials have proven the technology is feasible, it’s only done so in Arizona’s Goldilocks-like conditions of sunny weather and wide streets, says Raj Rajkumar, a computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “The question is not just one of cost, it’s one of scale,” he says. “Even Waymo, with Alphabet’s deep pockets, cannot do this across the country.”
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Dan Klinedinst was a Panelists at ITS America Forum on Cyber Security Risk and the Future of Mobility

August 1, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

August 1, 2018

Dan Klinedinst of Carnegie Mellon University was a panelists at ITS America Forum on Cyber Security Risk and the Future of Mobility in Denver, Colorado. Dan was on ‘The Cyber Industry’ panel where the panelists discussed resources available to address cybersecurity challenges, how do you attract, cybersecurity talent, and building a cybersecurity workforce.

Survey crew hits the streets to rank Montgomery’s road conditions

July 31, 2018
Posted in News

Data collectors are roaming the streets of Montgomery and scooping up condition information as part of a new pilot program for paving projects.

City officials are partnering with a Pittsburgh-based data-driven road survey company called RoadBotics to analyze, assess and ultimately rate streets in Montgomery. Leaders hope the tech-forward approach will help save money and create longer lasting roads by improving the efficiency of their paving process.

“As Montgomery continues our journey to becoming a leader among America’s Smart Cities, we must explore new technologies that benefit our residents and preserve our resources,” Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said in a press release. “Testing RoadBotics’ effectiveness in optimizing infrastructure throughout our city could lead to safer, smoother travel and newfound cost savings for our city organization, thanks to smarter decision making.”
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Smart Cities Are Smart Places for Entrepreneurs

July 31, 2018
Posted in News

Cities are getting smarter all the time: A full 66 percent of U.S. cities have already invested in smart technology. This means they are amassing mountains of data — and are ripe for some good old-fashioned American entrepreneurship…

This unprecedented data collection offers unprecedented opportunity to turn it into something useful, whether it’s in grid technology, mobile apps, sustainability or quality-of-life issues.

Many startups have been quick to jump into city issues, such as waste management and congestion. Austin-based Sensco uses sensor data to detect leaks in the water-supply infrastructure. RoadBotics tracks road conditions and alerts drivers and local government officials to specific types of road issues, such as potholes.
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Sleep Apnea Screening for Truckers Stirs Debate

July 30, 2018
Posted in News

The country’s long haul truck drivers keep the wheels of industry, consumerism and the economy rolling. But nearly a third of all truckers are living with a sleep disorder that could impact their alertness, according to a University of Pennsylvania study cited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. The FMCSA said it’s a potentially life-threatening condition that often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed. Risk factors for sleep apnea include family history, being overweight, large neck size and age.

While current government regulations do not specifically address sleep apnea, the FMCSA said a person with a history or clinical diagnosis of any condition likely to interfere with their ability to drive safely cannot be medically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
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Machine Vision System Spots Roadways in Need of Repair

July 27, 2018
Posted in News

Founded in 2016, Roadbotics is based on a machine vision technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University. Using footage collected from windshield-mounted cameras on cars driving through a road network, the computer vision algorithm has been trained to recognize flaws in road surfaces, including cracks, potholes and spalling. Geotagged road locations are rated on a five-color scale, and the data is collected into a map file that can be loaded into popular GIS imaging software.

“Normally this is a time-consuming and costly process,” says Ben Schmidt, Roadbotics CTO. “Here, we snap our fingers and there’s a comprehensive view of your road network.”

One of Roadbotics’ first customers was Ryan Fonzi, associate planning director for North Huntingdon Township, Pa., who needed a faster way to track the 160 miles of road under his supervision. “Their data was important for us—we can pull up conditions in certain wards. We have an unbalanced situation here where some wards are in better or worse shape, but now we can look at it township-wide,” he explains. “We have the data to help us make smarter decisions.”
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City of Savannah using new technology to better assess road conditions

July 27, 2018
Posted in News

The city of Savannah is using new technology to assess roadway conditions.

Partnering with a company called “Roadbotics,” the city hopes to cut costs and time as they improve the roads. We rode along with the co- owner of the company to see how it works.

“Lots of people will complain about potholes. Potholes are an enormous issue,” said Ben Schmidt, co-founder of Roadbotics, as he used the technology on a downtown Savannah street. “This is an asphalt road, so you can see some of the cracking that’s happening on both sides of it.”

The company “Roadbotics,” takes a smartphone and puts it in the dashboard of a car.
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Heads Up, Pittsburgh, Uber’s Back

July 26, 2018
Posted in News

As some states strive to style themselves as advocates for advanced technologies that bring in more jobs, they walk a fine line between public safety and economic boosterism.

On a higher level, Philip Koopman, safety expert and associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, was favorable toward PennDOT’s new guidance. He wrote in his blog, “There is a lot to like about this policy. It makes it clear that a written safety plan is required and suggests addressing one way or another the big three items I’ve proposed for AV testing safety.”

Koopman’s three items are: 1) Make sure the driver is paying attention, 2) make sure the driver can take over the wheel when something goes wrong, and 3) make sure that the big red button (disengagement mechanism) is actually safe.
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AARP Webinar: AVs in Pittsburgh

July 26, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

July 26, 2018

Traffic21/Mobility21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell was an expert panelist for a webinar meeting of the National AARP Autonomous Vehicle Work Group.  Other panelists were Karina Rick, Director of Mobility and Infrastructure and Sarah Papperman  Program Coordinator for the In Service of Seniors and  co-leader of the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh Transportation Working Group.  Panelist provided insight and advice on how AARP can educate and activate their members around AV issues.

PennDOT Issues Guidance for Increased Safety Oversight of Highly Automated Vehicles

July 24, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

July 24, 2018

PennDOT Issues Guidance for Increased Safety Oversight of Highly Automated Vehicles. Raj Rajkumar, Director of CMU’s Mobility21 National University Transportation Center and Stan Caldwell, Executive Director, Traffic21 Institute and Mobility21 and T-SET National University Transportation Centers serve on the PennDOT Automated Vehicle Policy Task Force and participated in deliberation and provided feedback for the development of this policy.  Read the press release about the new guidance here.

 

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Learns about Traffic Deployment in Pittsburgh

July 24, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

July 24, 2018

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce visited Pittsburgh for their City to City initiative. They met with Stan Caldwell, Executive Director of Traffic21 and Alex Pazuchanics, Assistant Director of the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure to learn about Mobility21’s transportation deployments in Pittsburgh.

Mobility21 Student Section Live on our Website

July 23, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

July 23, 2018

We have introduced a new Student Section right here on the Mobility21 website. Here you can learn about opportunities for student involvement, read about our past and current student leadership and learn about ongoing student projects. You will also be able to hear about Mobility21 events and explore coursework at CMU that relates to our work.

Exec Director, Stan Caldwell presented Traffic21 Tech Projects to Save Energy to US Representatives

July 23, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

July 23, 2018

Traffic21 Executive Director, Stan Caldwell spoke in front of The Alliance to Save Energy’s 50×50 Commission, including several U.S. Representatives, about Traffic21’s tech projects to save energy. Stan was joined by Traffic21 researcher, Costa Samaras who discussed “Energy, Sustainability and Climate Impacts of the Transition to Autonomous Vehicles.”

Uber layoffs are ‘critical’ in restructuring the company, says CMU autonomy expert

July 18, 2018
Posted in News

After a self-driving Uber in autonomous mode struck and killed a 49-year-old woman in Tempe, Ariz., it exposed the company’s shortcomings in safety culture — including problems with technology testing and operator training — according to Raj Rajkumar, a CMU professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“They need to rethink their entire methodology, and this layoff announcement is perhaps one of many steps in that restructuring process,” said Mr. Rajkumar, who is also co-director of CMU’s autonomous vehicles
lab and founder of Ottomatika, a CMU spinoff that provides software and systems development for selfdriving vehicles. The company was acquired by Delphi, now Aptiv, in 2014.

Uber’s safety operators’ responsibilities must be revisited, he said, and hiring and training need to be dramatically revised.
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