Self-driving vehicle testing in Pittsburgh area shifting gears to focus on trucking industry

October 3, 2023

Not long ago, cars topped with a futuristic apparatus could regularly be seen cruising along Pittsburgh’s streets, testing technology that allowed the vehicles to get around without a person steering the wheel.

But such car sightings have become rare as the autonomous vehicle sector has refocused from the hype of the 2010s…

Karen Lightman, executive director of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, called it “tech-lash.”

“People react out of fear of technology,” Lightman said.

Although there are challenges for passenger vehicles, Lightman said, the technology is poised to improve people’s lives.

“People who are disabled or don’t have access to reliable, safe transportation can be cut off from the rest of the world. They can’t work, get groceries, go to worship, can’t see friends and family,” Lightman said. “There’s a whole chunk of our country that’s disconnected because we don’t have public transportation that serves them.”

“I’m hoping that we’ll see public transportation also become more automated and autonomous, and shared mobility will be a critical part of it,” she added. “If we end up having more single-occupancy vehicles that happen to be autonomous, we’re not improving quality of life. And if it’s just for the rich elite, that’s not sustainable, either. We have to make sure there’s equity in this.”

Pittsburgh’s top driverless carmakers are pivoting to trucks. What does that mean for driverless cars’ future?

September 19, 2023

Bryan Salesky, Peter Rander and Brett Browning, all industry veterans and former leaders of the Pittsburgh robotaxi company Argo AI, are some of the brightest minds in autonomous vehicle development.

Their pivot from self-driving cars to self-driving trucks is the latest sign of how difficult it is to fully take our hands off the wheel, industry experts and researchers said.

“It is becoming more and more evident that automating trucks and transportation on highways is a more realistic goal for AVs than solving the general urban traffic automation problem,” said Dimi Apostolopoulos, senior scientist at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and the National Robotics Engineering Center…

Experts say a commitment to safety will be a key part of future regulatory approvals and positive public perception…

“The safety problem is receiving a lot of attention in autonomous driving, but so far a definitive solution has not emerged,” said John Dolan, a principal scientist at the CMU Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research. The problem is especially acute for trucks given their size and momentum and the damage they can cause in accidents, he said.

AI playing increasing role in managing traffic on nation’s roads

September 15, 2023

From traffic signals to traffic flow, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, information on what’s happening on all the roads in Delaware streams into the state’s Transportation Management Center…

That complex system involves traffic lights, cameras and sensors, along with data coming in from weather stations and emergency responder channels, which all coalesce within A.I. The artificial intelligence then makes traffic-management decisions based on that information…

“In any computing system, the more information a system has, the better decisions it can make,” said Stan Caldwell, executive director of the Traffic 21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University…

Last December, Caldwell spoke about how self-driving vehicles will be communicating with these so-called ‘smart roads’ in the near future. That testing is ongoing in a number of states, including Virginia and Ohio.

“There will be positive impacts and there will be negative impacts,” he said. “And so being able to get that real-world data in a real-world environment is very important for the researchers to be able to help guide the policymakers in how to manage this in the future.”

Machine Learning: A Road’s Automated Doctor

June 29, 2018

Machines That See Roads Better Than Humans
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A town forged in steel is now a leader in a new movement: autonomous vehicles. One of the companies leading the charge is Roadbotics, a Pittsburgh-based company that creates advanced road monitoring technology.

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Mark DeSantis, the Roadbotics team has developed a comprehensive road monitoring system. This system uses semi-autonomous vehicles to collect road data and machine learning to analyze road conditions with 10-foot accuracy. A cloud-based Geographic Information System (GIS) dashboard is used to make each road’s assessment easily searchable and accessible.

* Video clip from full interview below.
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Metro21: Smart Cities Institute Podcast with Raj Rajkumar

May 21, 2018

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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