RISS Robolaunch Hosts Special Seminar on STEM Outreach, Media & Robotics

August 11, 2022
Posted in What's Happening

August 10, 2022

The Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) RoboLaunch program hosted a special seminar on STEM Outreach, Media & Robotics, “Can Hollywood Help Save Math Education?” with Dr. Michael Milford.  The discussion focused on leveraging and partnering with media to drive exclusive STEM outreach.  View the conversation here.

Dr. Destenie Nock Explains Energy Justice in a Recent NSF-Funded Video

August 1, 2022
Posted in What's Happening

August 1, 2022

Mobility21 UTC researcher Dr. Destenie Nock explains energy justice in a new video, funded by the National Science Foundation.  The video covers three types of energy justice (distributional, procedural, and recognitional). Reaching energy justice requires achieving equity in the distribution of costs and benefits, the social and economic participation in the energy system, as well as remediating social, economic, and health burdens on vulnerable groups which have been disproportionately harmed by the energy system. Watch the full video here.

CMU Master of Language Technologies Student Yulan Feng Contributes to the 2020 CMU Symposium on AI & Social Good

April 24, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 24, 2020

CMU Master of Language Technologies Student Yulan Feng contributed to the 2020 CMU Symposium on AI & Social Good by presenting on “CMU GetGoing: Dialogue System Designed for Seniors.”  Yulan works with Mobility21 UTC Researcher Maxine Eskenazi on the project “CMU GetGoing Dialogue System.” The 2020 CMU AI and Social Good Symposium aims to address these challenges by bringing together AI researchers and social impact leaders to present their ideas and applications for maximizing the social good.

Traffic21 Founder and UTC Researchers Part of Team Helping Provide Assistance to State Decision-Makers During Pandemic

April 22, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 22, 2020

“Carnegie Mellon University is playing a key role in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s planning efforts to re-open the state’s economy.”  CMU Traffic21 founder Rick Stafford and UTC researchers Lee Branstetter, Peter Zhang, and Hai Wang will be part of this team providing assistance to state decision-makers during COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more here…

CMU Professor & Mobility21 UTC Researcher Burku Akinci received ASCE 2020 Computing in Civil Engineering Award

April 8, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 8, 2020

CMU Professor & Mobility21 UTC researcher Burcu Akinci received the ASCE 2020 Computing in Civil Engineering Award in recognition of contributions at the interface of computing, construction, and infrastructure management. Her research is focused on developing approaches to model and reason about information-rich histories of facilities—with the goal to streamline construction and facility management processes.

Quantifying Transportation Relationships

April 8, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 8, 2020

CMU Mobility21 UTC researcher and CEE’s Sean Qian studied the relationship between Uber and public transportation, demonstrating variance between time of day and location.

His work was described in the following article published in CMU’s Civil & Environmental Engineering News Spring 2020 newsletter…

In our modern world, it’s easy to get across town. With companies such as Uber and Lyft, known as transportation network companies (TNC), passengers have plenty of options on how they will travel. Both TNCs and public transportation leaders rely on data to influence their policies, so Associate Professor Sean Qian set out to study the relationship between TNCs and public transportation in Pittsburgh. In a recently published paper in the journal Transportation, Qian’s Mobility Data Analytics Center focused on whether consumers were substituting public transit with TNCs, making last-minute decisions to choose a TNC over public transportation based on fares.

TNCs and public transportation can have a complementary relationship—that is, the TNC can help fill service gaps in public transportation. It is impossible for buses, subways, and light rail to easily connect every single street, but TNCs can cover the first and last portion of the trip. Between public transportation and short TNC rides, consumer costs can be kept to a minimum, while maximizing accessibility to the community.

However, according to CMU PhD student Rick Grahn, it can be difficult to understand the relationship between TNCs and public transportation; sometimes there may be no relationship at all.

“Some of the current literature says bus riders are quite different from people who would use Uber, so maybe there’s not a lot of interaction
between the two,” Grahn says. “It’s hard to make any definitive conclusion
of what drives travelers’ choice and how those choices may vary from
time to time, and from location to location.”

Researchers can look at the bus ridership before and after TNCs begin servicing an area, but changes may not be directly related to the TNC, making it almost impossible to tell why bus ridership changed. The best way to learn about the relationship between TNCs and public transportation is to analyze trip-level data, but such data can be difficult for researchers to access.

To acquire trip-level-like information, Qian and his team used Port Authority data that counts how many people board passing buses and tracked Uber prices at 10 different hand-picked locations around Pittsburgh.

There are many variables that decide if a person takes the bus or a TNC,
so Qian accounted for the weather, nearby events, traffic, and other
bus stops. To smooth out daily inconsistencies, data was taken over a
six-month period.

Qian was most interested in learning what an increase, or surge, in TNC
prices does to bus ridership. Surge pricing works by comparing how many
drivers are in an area with how many people need rides.

Because an increase in TNC riders results in an increase in price, it
might seem natural that bus ridership would increase during these surges.
However, that doesn’t always seem to be the case.

At stops on a university campus, which were filled with students, this
assumption held. Qian states that this is probably related to students’ low
budgets and the fact that Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh
students have unlimited public transportation use incorporated into
their tuition.

However, at locations that connected local buses and downtown along
a dedicated busway, there was a decrease in bus boarding, suggesting
a substitutional relationship between TNC and public transportation.
This might also indicate that TNCs are providing last-mile services to
passengers using the dedicated busway. Otherwise, no correlation was
found between price surges and bus boarding.

While these results may be unique to Pittsburgh, researchers can apply
the same model to other cities to find relationships there. According
to Grahn, once the relationship is understood, targeted policies can be applied at a neighborhood level, ensuring a complementary and efficient relationship between transportation options.

“Congestion fees can be applied to TNC trips in specific congested areas during commute times to promote more space efficient modes of travel,”
Qian and his co-authors conclude. “Data-informed policies that consider
emerging modes of travel are central to limiting rising congestion costs
and improving mobility for vulnerable populations.”

At the locations where significant changes in bus ridership occurred,
the trend was restricted to specific times of the day and either weekdays
or weekends. This fact alone is important, according to Qian. Large macroscopic research may not yield the significant, small-scale trends his
team found.

“The main thing this research is showing is that it is important to
look throughout the day and at all these neighborhoods with different
characteristics,” Grahn says.

CMU Professors Vivian Loftness and Chris Hendrickson Appointed to The National Academies Committee for Accelerating Decarbonization in the United States

March 24, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

March 24, 2020

CMU Professor Vivian Loftness in the School of Architecture, and professor Chris Hendrickson in the CMU Civil and Environmental Engineering department and Director of Traffic21, have been appointed to The National Academies Committee for Accelerating Decarbonization in the United States: Technology, Policy and Societal Dimensions. The two-year committee is focused on the technologies and policies needed today for full decarbonization by 2050.

Mobility21 UTC Researcher Quoted In ITS America Tweet

February 13, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

February 13, 2020

Mobility21 UTC Researcher Stephen Smith was quoted today in an ITS America tweet about Why is #V2X important to your work?:

“Our research at CMU has shown that the 5.9 #safetyspectrum provides unprecedented opportunities for smarter traffic signal control & will transform urban #mobility.”

CMU Postdoctoral Research Associate Participates on 2 Panels at the Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference

December 13, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

December 13, 2019

Wei Ma, Postdoctoral Research Associate from Carnegie Mellon University served on 2 panels during the Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference in State College, PA.  He presented on his work Estimating Multi-class Dynamic Origin-Destination Demand through a Forward-Backward Algorithm on Computational Graphs, and Data-Driven Traffic Prediction and Management: Case Studies of Cranberry Township and Philadelphia Region.

Mobility21 UTC Researchers Participate on Transportation in Smart City Ecosystem Panel

December 11, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

December 11, 2019

Mobility21 UTC Executive Director & Researcher, Stan Caldwell and UTC Researcher Don Carter,  served as panelists at the Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference in State College, PA today.  Speaking about Transportation in Smart City Ecosystems, their presentations included how transportation threads into the Smart City Ecosystems including energy, building systems, and telecommunication.

Mobility21 UTC Hosts Breakfast and Learn For Business Managers

November 19, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

November 19, 2019

Business Managers representing faculty across the Carnegie Mellon University attended a “breakfast and learn” hosted by Mobility21 to learn more about the Traffic21 and Mobility21 UTC funding.  During the event, Rhonda Kloss & Heather Depasquale of the Research Accelerator, and Jacob Bacharach of the Heinz College reviewed the funding sources and shared some tips with the business managers.

WPXI Features the Traffic21 Smart Mobility Challenge in Interview

November 13, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

November 13, 2019

Watch the WPXI interview highlighting the Traffic21 Smart Mobility Challenge and work being led by CMU researcher Sean Qian. “Unique service helping areas with limited public transportation.” https://www.wpxi.com/news/investigates/unique-service-helping-areas-with-limited-public-transportation/1007942538 via @WPXI

Mobility21 UTC Faculty Authors Article Telling Cities Robocars Could Be the End of Downtown Parking

September 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

September 3, 2019

Costa Samaras, Mobility21 UTC Faculty in CEE/EPP at Carnegie Mellon, in collaboration with Postdoctoral Research Associate Corey Harper, authored in article published in The Conversation about the future of autonomous vehicles and their impact on city parking lots. Read the full article here.

CMU Students Making an Impact in a Big Way, Far Away

July 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

Article By Bruce Gerson

Four students took a meaningful and fulfilling winter-break trip they’ll never forget.

Christina Ou, Cathy Fang, Melina Driscoll and Ashley Burbano, members of Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB), traveled to Nyadire, Zimbabwe, where they spent two weeks at the town’s United Methodist Centre helping the small community of about 2,000 people. Their trip was twofold: They followed up on their chapter’s four-year solar street light project and began a new effort to improve the cooking system for a local school.

Read more…


Students from PA Rural Robotics Initiative Visit CMU

July 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

June 27, 2019

Today, 15 students from the Franklin Area High School went to Carnegie Mellon University for the day. The students, all part of the PA Rural Robotics Initiative, traveled almost 2 hours each way to get a glimpse into some of CMU’s programs and resources.

Organized and supported by CMU’s Mobility21 University Transportation Center and the Robotics Institute, the visit included:

  • A discussion of transportation & technology
  • An introduction to making traffic “smarter”
  • A tour of the NavLab where the students saw and learned about autonomous vehicles
  • A tour of the Field Robotics Center where the students learned more about aerial robotics
  • A networking lunch where the students met and talked with members of the 2019 CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholars cohort

When asked what she thought of the experience, Grace said “I really enjoyed learning about the autonomous vehicles and our discussions with the summer scholars. Thank you, CMU!”

Tim Heffernan, the Executive Director of the PA Rural Robotics Initiative said “Although geographically Carnegie Mellon isn’t too far from home, sometimes these types of opportunities and institutions seem worlds away to these students. Having the chance to meet the summer scholars and interact with the world’s best in their professions will change how these kids view themselves and their futures. We couldn’t be more excited about, and grateful for, the opportunity that our friends at CMU have provided for these young people. Events like today have a positive impact on our kids and our region.”

In addition to the students and Mr. Heffernan, five chaperones accompanied the group:

  • Mrs. Jill Foys, Northwest Commission, Director
  • Mr. Trenton Moulin, Bridge Builders Community Foundation, Executive Director
  • Mr. William Vonada, Cranberry Area School District, Superintendent
  • Dr. Jody Strausser, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Associate Professor Computer Information Science, PA Rural Robotics 2019 Volunteer of the Year
  • Mr. Albert Abramovic, Venango County Commissioner. He said he was impressed with the day’s program and was grateful for the opportunity to join the students for the day.

One of the Mobility21 UTC’s focus areas is Education & Workforce Development.  Research and technology is only one half of the new mobility equations. The transportation industry is being deluged with disruptive technologies just as its current, aging workforce faces mass retirement. Educating, training and inspiring the currently and next generation of transportation professionals is critical to the success of new technology. Helping coordinate and participate in the visit from the PA Rural Robotics Initiative is one way the Mobility21 UTC is engaging the next generation of transportation professionals.

Learn more:

# # #

In 2018, Franklin Area High School had four lonely VEX robots that students traveled around Pennsylvania and West Virginia with, searching for teams to compete against. Fast-forward to the end of this June and those four robots have 180 new companions right next door. Together they make up the Pennsylvania Rural Robotics Initiative, a consortium of 11 school districts, one technology center, and an intermediate unit that all share a common robotics platform and curriculum. Twenty-five schools, covering five counties, have found like-minded friends in higher education, business and industry, state and local government, non-profits, and regional economic and workforce development that not only support their initiative but help it to thrive.

The Traffic21 and Mobility21 Institute’s leadership team have been trusted advisor since the conception of PA Rural Robotics and continues to look for ways to support their mission. Both faculty and graduate students from the Robotics Institute are working to bring CMU and these young STEM students together. PA Rural Robotics was also excited to find themselves partnered with a team of CMU undergraduate students as part of the 2019 Information Systems Spring Project. The Office of Outreach and Engagement have provided a menu of options that can further the CMU connections as the initiative grows. The most recent Carnegie Mellon connection was with the CMU CS Academy. PA Rural Robotics plans to introduce their member schools to the CS1 course and discuss the potential it could have in expanding computer science offerings within all of the member districts.

ArgoAI Partners with Carnegie Mellon University

June 24, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

June 24, 2019

Carnegie Mellon University and Argo AI announced a five-year, $15 million sponsored research partnership under which the self-driving technology company will fund research into advanced perception and next-generation decision-making algorithms for autonomous vehicles.  Press Release

Smart Mobility Challenge Project: Traffic Impact Study of CSX Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal and Mitigation Plans for McKees Rocks

May 6, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

May 6, 2019

In September 2017, CSX Transportation began operations at its newest Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal, located in Stowe and McKees Rocks. The facility provides shippers a new transportation option to move freight to and from the region and enhances the area and the company’s competitive advantage through greater connectivity. However, studies show the development of the facility will also add to a number of trucks in and through the Borough of McKees Rocks, increasing demands on the existing infrastructure and increasing congestion to already congesting roadways.

Located along the south bank of the Ohio River just a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks & Stowe Township is home to 13,000 residents.

To study this traffic increase and possible mitigation strategies, the Borough of McKees Rocks applied for this new development and its traffic impacts to be a research project as part of Traffic21’s Smart Mobility Challenge. As a winning project, the CDC of McKees Rocks were partnered with CMU’s Mobility Data Analytics Center (MAC) to conduct an in-depth analysis of the potential growing traffic impact in high temporal and spatial resolutions.

During the research, Mobility Data Analytics Center (MAC) develops a large-scale regional traffic model that simulates nearly 700 thousand of trips of cars and trucks during a typical weekday. Using a variety of data sets, MAC was able to simulate individual trucks and cars and model route choices, travel time and mixed traffic flow conditions. The result includes the travel time, travel delay, vehicle-mile-traveled, fuel use and emissions for each road segment and intersection by time of day. In addition, the team examined the effectiveness of traffic management strategies in different scenarios.

During a recent project update meeting with community representatives shared that being chosen as a Smart Mobility Challenge project provided them a predictive model (that would normally be out of reach for communities like McKees Rocks) to help analyze truck traffics impacts in their community.

Although this research project focused on several particular applications such as trucks and roadway usage to demonstrate the method and leverage resources, the methodology can be applicable and scalable to other cities and regions, and to any general disruptive change to the infrastructure network. The research completed in McKees Rocks could also be of value to various groups interested in infrastructure, travel demand management, green design, environmental policies and more.

Now that the research part of the project is complete, the next steps for McKees Rocks includes a review of the research, engagement on discussions about the project results, and the provision of input for the decision makers to consider.

Learn more about this project here: https://ppms.cit.cmu.edu/media/project_files/60-final.pdf.


Mobility21 UTC Hosts Lunch and Learn For Business Managers

April 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

April 3, 2019

20+ Business Managers representing faculty across the Carnegie Mellon University attended a “lunch and learn” hosted by Mobility21 to learn more about the Traffic21 and Mobility21 UTC funding.  During the event, Rhonda Kloss & Heather Depasquale of the Research Accelerator, and Scott Petyak & Olivia Wells of the Heinz College reviewed the funding sources and shared some tips with the business managers.

CMU Student Elyana Hurst Receives WTS Scholarship

March 29, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

March 28, 2019

Tonight the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) Pittsburgh Chapter held its 2019 Annual Scholarship Gala.

Elyana Hurst, a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy, with a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies was awarded the 2019 WTS Pittsburgh Chapter Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates during the event.

Elyana is interested in transportation infrastructure, specifically within and around cities, and hopes to pursue research regarding autonomous vehicles. She is involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers at her university, and she serves as an ambassador for the Engineering & Public Policy department.

Elyana aims to pursue a career that allows her to combine her passion for the transportation industry with her knowledge of environmental concerns and the importance of government policies.

Members of Mobility21 staff, students and deployment partners also participated in the event and were able to congratulate Elyana as she received her scholarship award.

UTC Program Manager Gets Updates on Student Projects at the University Of Pennsylvania

March 26, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

March 26, 2019

Lisa Kay Schweyer met with UTC faculty and students during her semi-annual visit to the Mobility21 academic partner, the University of Pennsylvania.  She heard presentations from students on their research on ridehailing services’ impact on transit ridership, pedestrian deaths and injuries, and predictors of cycling.

Mobility21 Program Manager Presents Traffic21 Overview at Engineering Accelerator

February 22, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

February 22, 2019

At the CMU Engineering Research Accelerator staff meeting, Lisa Kay Schweyer, the Program Manager for Traffic21 and Mobility21 presented an overview of the Traffic21 Institute.  She reviewed the history of the Institute and the T-SET and Mobility21 University Transportation Centers housed within the Institute.  She provided highlights of the research projects, partnerships and collaborations and other initiatives.

Director of Mobility, Maryn Weimer, appointed to Ohio Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure

February 1, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

February 1, 2019

Maryn Weimer, director of mobility and senior associate director at The Ohio State Center for Automotive Research has been appointed to the Ohio Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure by Governor Mike DeWine.   This new committee will study the current conditions of Ohio’s roadways and recommend options for maintaining and enhancing the state’s transportation infrastructure.  Read more…

Mobility21 Executive Director Speaks on TRB Panel

January 15, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

January 15, 2019

Mobility21 Executive Director, Stan Caldwell served as a speaker for the TRB conference session,  Integrating Research and Technology Transfer.  His presentation included an overview of how technology transfer happens through the CMU Traffic21 Institute and the Mobility21 UTC, and highlighted some of the companies that have spun out of the UTC funded research efforts.

UTC Spin-off company, RoadBotics has raised $3.9M in its series seed round of financing

November 16, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

November 16, 2018

UTC Spin-off company, RoadBotics, developer of advanced computer vision technology for inspecting roads and infrastructure, has raised $3.9M in its series seed round of financing, led by Boston-based Hyperplane Venture Capital. The capital will help the company revolutionize the way engineering firms, local governments and municipalities manage and maintain roadways and other infrastructure. RoadBotics, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, is a rapidly-growing two-year-old company that uses deep learning to assess roadways for 78 cities, towns and counties across the US and Australia. The company emerged from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in December 2016 and grew out of Carnegie Mellon’s extensive research in autonomous vehicles. Read more here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/roadbotics-secures-3-9m-to-transform-road-management-300750045.html.

Research, Development and Deployment In Action: Mobility21 Deployment Partner Consortium Symposium Provides Opportunities for Engagement

November 9, 2018
Posted in What's Happening

On Friday, November 9, 2018, over 100 attendees participated in the annual Symposium of the Traffic21 /Mobility21 Deployment Partner Consortium.  Participants included consortium members from the public and private sectors along with faculty and students.  The symposium is sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon University Traffic21 Institute and Mobility21 National University Transportation Center and held on CMU’s campus.

Ramayya Krishnan, Dean, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

The group was welcomed by Ramayya Krishnan, Dean, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.  He thanked everyone for their involvement and critical role in providing the “real life” connection to the research.  Then Chris Hendrickson, Director, Traffic21 Institute and Raj Rajkumar, Director, Mobility21 National University Transportation Center provided an overview of both Traffic21 and  Mobility21 activity and plans.

The day included three panels focused on industry, government, and community along with lots of audience participation.  Each panel featured thought leaders who shared their perspective on how new transportation technology is impacting industry and communities and and how research or education might address these real-world needs.

Raymond Betler, President and CEO of Wabtec Corporation

The first panel focused on industry, with panelists discussing “Emerging Technology Trends.”

  • Rebecca Brewster, President and Chief Operating Officer of the American Transportation Research Institute 
  • Raymond Betler, President and CEO of Wabtec Corporation
  • Robert Grant, Head of Government Relations, Aurora
  • Jim Misener, Senior Director of Technical Standards at Qualcomm
Johanna Jochum, Attorney, Mobility, Transport & Safety Practice Group of Babst Calland

The second panel of the day was the Government Panel which focused on “New Technology Policy Challenges.”

  • Roger Cohen, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
  • Johanna Jochum, Attorney, Mobility, Transport & Safety Practice Group of Babst Calland
  • Karina Ricks, Director, City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure
  • Paul Skoutelas, President and Chief Executive Officer of The American Public Transportation Association
JaLissa D. Coffee, Director of Operations, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials

The last panel highlighted community issues and the “Societal Impacts of Disruptive Technology.”

  • JaLissa D. Coffee, Director of Operations, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials
  • Ashley Hand, Co-founder, CityFi
  • Ken McLeod, Policy Director, The League of American Bicyclists
  • Chris Sandvig, Policy Director, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
Leslie Richards, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

The keynote speaker for the event was Leslie Richards, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Secretary Richards shared her thoughts on the future of transportation in the commonwealth, the new autonomous vehicle testing policy, and the challenges of keeping up with all the changes. She also spent time answering questions from the symposium attendees.

The day concluded with a research poster session and networking reception. Over 16 research projects were featured during the event. Researchers were able to share information about their projects, exchange ideas with attendees, and even forge some new partnerships.

Poster Session

Putting our research, development and deployment approach into action – the symposium provided an opportunity for interaction and discussion among researchers, students and deployment partners. Conversations were held not only during the formal program, panels and poster sessions, but during breaks and over lunch.

The Mobility21 team is a tight collaboration among Carnegie Mellon University (Lead), the University of Pennsylvania, the Ohio State University and the Community College of Allegheny County, and brings to bear the reach and scale of all four institutions.

Tackling the multi-faceted nature of Mobility21 objectives requires coordinated research, education, workforce development and technology transfer. This work is supported by researchers spanning multiple disciplines such as  engineering, computer science and robotics, public policy, urban design, information systems and data analytics.

Deployment Partner Consortium members represent public agencies, non-profit organizations, private sector companies, and other research institutions who actively support Traffic21 and Mobility21 research.

Learn more about the Deployment Partner Consortium by clicking here.