The Robot Doctor: High School Math Education Through the Lens of Robotics

June 30, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 30, 2020

With COVID-19 school closures, the continuity of education for the majority of Pennsylvania’s students is at risk.  Inequities of resources, staffing, and lack of Internet connectivity are making online learning inaccessible for some of our most at-risk communities. This decrease in classroom learning time, both in-person and virtual, is leaving some students further behind and threatens to deepen the chasm in learning outcomes and opportunities. Public-private partnerships are emerging to create just-in-time educational resources to support communities and families. RobotWits LLC, and the PA Rural Robotics Initiative, both Mobility21 deployment partners, and WQED partnered to create the accessible STEM instructional resources, the Robot Doctor, for high school students and teachers.

The Robot Doctor series comprises two parts: 1) eight 14-minute video lessons for students and 2) educator instructional support and feedback channels. The series was broadcast on all seven PBS stations across Pennsylvania to provide immediate instructional support to high school students. Designed to be accessible to most of Pennsylvania’s students in no-tech and low-tech formats, the series can be downloaded from partner websites, streamed, and could be rebroadcast this fall.

The series reinforces critical mathematics concepts taught in high school. The learning objectives in each episode are linked directly to Pennsylvania State Standards in Math and Science and focus on the Pennsylvania Department of Education-recommended content. The Robot Doctor ties math concepts taught in high school to cutting-edge robotic technologies from drones to autonomous vehicles to humanoids.

“The Robot Doctor teaches core math concepts through the lens of robotics,” Explained Maxim Likhachev, co-leader of the project is an associate professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), and director of the Search-Based Planning Laboratory (SBPL) at CMU. He founded RobotWits, the Pittsburgh-based technology company focused on self-driving solutions that created the Robot Doctor content and are supporting educator engagement and professional learning opportunities. A key goal of the materials, as described by Likhachev, is to decrease perceptions that STEM careers are inaccessible.

Cathy Cook, WQED Director of Education Projects, explained, “With in-person instruction still being uncertain, the challenge for WQED will be figuring out how to educate students when accessibility is still an issue. With equity as a huge problem, how can students be held accountable if not everyone has access to the same learning opportunities? And, how can WQED help bridge that divide?”

“COVID-19 increased the urgency of addressing the digital divide”, said Rachel Burcin, the project co-lead. “Families do not have uniform access to technology platforms and stable Internet connections. Accessible content that is tied to standards is becoming even more critical as school districts and individual teachers scramble to make remote learning work. In this new normal, TV broadcast is becoming a central tool to reach as many families as possible.” Tim Heffernan, the founder of the PA Rural Robotics Initiative, notes that bringing world-class resources to rural communities like those that he supports opens tremendous opportunities and contributes to economic and workforce development.

“The Robot Doctor is unique for WQED because it is rooted in public television’s core mission of educating our audience and providing direct instruction to students over our airwaves. Additionally, due to unforeseen circumstances from Covid-19, huge gaps were identified by the Department of Education, and we were asked to respond, in real-time, to the need,” according to WQED’s Director Educational Partnerships Gina Masciola.

This public-private partnership engages key stakeholders from government, non-profit, and private entities and enterprises, including the Pennsylvania Department of Education, RobotWits LLC, PA Rural Robotics, and leverages expertise and leadership from roboticists and educators. To learn more or to bring these free resources to your school or community, contact Rachel Burcin at rachel@robotwits.com or Maxim Likhachev at maxim@robotwits.com.

Trade-offs Between Automation and Light Vehicle Electrification

June 29, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 29, 2020

Mobility21 UTC Researcher Venkat Viswanathan and colleague Parth Vaishnav, along with doctoral students Aniruddh Mohan and Shashank Sripad, were published in the most recent issue of Nature Energy where they explored how adding self-driving capability to electric vehicles might affect range.  Access the article here.

ITS America Announces Winner of the America’s Region of the Emerging Leaders Program Global Challenge

June 25, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 25, 2020

ITS America has named University of Pennsylvania, a Mobility21 UTC academic partner, as the winner of the America’s region of the Emerging Leaders Program Global Challenge with their inclusive mobility plan for Philadelphia.

Move, Philadelphia! is an inclusive mobility model for the city that includes multiple strategies to limit private vehicle use within the city using the latest technologies and direct diverted funds to the city’s flailing public transit system. Read the team’s submission here.

The Global Challenge, initially developed for the 2020 ITS World Congress in Los Angeles, was designed to help develop future ITS and emerging technology leaders among university and college students worldwide. Each ITS World Congress regions (Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific) is running parallel competitions to select winning teams – one team in each region. Teams were recruited to design an inclusive mobility model for an urban environment in their area. Europe and Asia-Pacific will select regional winners later this summer.

The UPenn team writes that Philadelphia has long had an equity problem. It is the poorest large city in the country but has experienced recent growth, which has resulted in increased congestion. Philadelphia is the third most congested city in the United States, but transportation issues affecting communities of color and low-income people are widespread. The city’s transit agency, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), is at risk, and the team proposes solutions that will create additional revenues as well as make access to transit more equitable. 

From the UPenn team’s abstract: “Introducing innovative curbside management tools can help Philadelphia regulate its limited roadway space and keep traffic flowing. Increasing fees for car usage, such as rideshare fees and parking permits, will more accurately price the cost of driving, discourage car use in our most congested areas, and create additional revenues for SEPTA. Furthermore, an overhaul in SEPTA’s fare structure and collection will increase financial accessibility of transit and make it a more attractive mode to all Philadelphians.”

Members of the UPenn team, below, are all in the Master of City Planning program:

  • Camille Boggan, from Cincinnati, OH, studied Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning;
  • Emily Kennedy, from Tallahassee, FL, studied Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning;
  • David Seunglee Park, from Washington, DC., studied Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning;
  • Kate Sutton, from Lafayette, IN, studied Transportation and Spatial Data Science; and
  • Professors & UTC researchers Erick Guerra and Megan Ryerson

ITS America managed the competition in the Americas with support from a team of volunteers. Teams from 13 universities in the United States and Canada submitted papers.

A team of 15 subject matter experts representing the public, private, and academic sectors reviewed the papers and recommended three to advance to the regional finals. In addition to UPenn, the others were from the University of South Florida and Virginia Tech. ITS America held the regional final, virtually, on June 8. Each team made presentations and answered questions from five judges including representatives from ITS America, U.S. Department of Transportation, HNTB Corporation, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and University of Florida.”

Viswanathan Named One of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35

June 24, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 24, 2020

Mobility21 UTC Researcher Venkat Viswanathan has been named one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35.

“Viswanathan is recognized for his work to develop a new type of battery that could make electric vehicles (EVs) cheaper and more energy efficient. His research specifically focuses on developing a new type of battery with an anode made out of pure lithium. While lithium metal batteries have great potential, they are prone to forming dendrites that arise when charging fast. These dendrites shorten the batteries’ lifetime and can lead to fires and explosions. To combat this, Viswanathan has developed a hybrid polymer-ceramic separator between the batteries’ electrodes that can apply enough pressure to keep the dendrites from forming. Viswanathan has collaborated with several companies on battery design and production. He and his team have received funding from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program to continue their research, which has the potential to change the nature of transportation.” Find out more here.

Roadbotics Named “World Economic Forum 2020 Technology Pioneer”

June 19, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 19, 2020

Roadbotics, a Mobility21 spin-off company, has been named a “World Economic Forum 2020 Technology Pioneer.”  The Technology Pioneers of 2020 bring together 100 early to growth-stage companies from around the world that are pioneering new technologies and innovations, ranging from the use of artificial intelligence to diagnose cancers and quantum computing systems, to carbon capture and removing technologies, cell-grown meat production and use of microbiome to track goods.

Mobility21 Welcomes 2 Robotics Institute Summer Scholars

June 18, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 18, 2020

Mobility21 is pleased to welcome and support Beverley-Claire Okogwu and Fausto Vega as participants in the 2020 Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) Program.

At Mobility21, we view research and education as two sides of the same coin. We cannot educate for future generations without exposing them to research, development and deployment. On the other hand, we cannot do successful research, development and deployment without the input of future generations.

“The Carnegie Mellon University RISS Program is an intensive summer research program for talented undergraduate students. Summer Scholars have the opportunity to participate in state-of-the-art research projects, interact with a diverse research team, and to be mentored by leading faculty and technical staff. The program introduces aspiring students to dynamic research resources and methods, RI graduate education programs and research projects. The Summer Scholars program lasts 11 weeks.”

More about the Mobility21 RISS Summer Scholars, Beverley-Claire Okogwu and Fausto Vega

Photo of Beverley-Claire OkogwaBeverley-Claire Okogwu is a rising senior at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania majoring in Computer Science, with a minor in Mathematics. This summer at the Robotics Institute Summer Scholars Program, she is working on developing and using Reinforcement Learning environments to experiment with and model autonomous vehicles and smart cities. Through the RISS program, Beverley-Claire hopes to fully comprehend the techniques and skills needed in writing and presenting research. In addition, she will also learn how to conduct fluid research (especially in the fields of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence) and have an idea of what graduate school would be like. Although she is mainly conducting remote research this year, she sees it as gaining an adaptability skill that will make her familiar with simulation environments.

Aside from research, she is also enjoying the various online platforms – Discord, Slack, zoom – that are being used in communication with her fellow scholars. She is learning so much about each member despite being in different parts of the world! Beverley-Claire is truly grateful to be given this opportunity at RISS.

FPhoto of Fausto Vegaausto Vega is an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He is part of the Honors College, majoring in mechanical engineering, and minoring in mathematics. He conducts research at the Drones and Autonomous Systems Laboratory at UNLV on several robotics concepts. He is excited to be participating in the Robotics Institute of Summer Scholars at Carnegie Mellon University. He hopes to learn efficient research methods from his mentors as well as gain more insight in drone and aerospace technologies. This experience will allow him to prepare for graduate school through the writing and professional development workshops. It will also allow him to expand his network with scholars, faculty, and professionals from around the world.

More about RISS
“RISS connects students from across the country and world to contribute to robotics research alongside top CMU researchers. With 42 scholars from 11 countries and 33 home universities, the 2020 RISS cohort is the largest cohort since the inception of the program in 2006. Forty percent of the participating scholars are from communities underrepresented in STEM…The RI scholars’ research experience is guided by outstanding research mentors that represent the incredibly diverse robotics research from across the Institute. This year 25 individuals and their teams are undertaking the challenge of navigating a remote experience. We welcome eight new mentors and thank returning mentors who have had a tremendous impact on the lives and careers of the scholars. Mentors guide, support, create new possibilities, and nurture students’ potential.”

https://riss.ri.cmu.edu/

Transportation Research Board Meets to Discuss Diversity and Inclusion

June 16, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 16, 2020

Traffic21 Institute Director and Mobility21 Researcher Chris Hendrickson met with new Transportation Research Board Cooperative Research Program staff to discuss the role of the TRB Division Committee in reviewing panel members and reports, and ensuring diversity and inclusion on panels.

Smart Belt Coalition Quarterly Meeting

June 11, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 10, 2020

Stan Caldwell participated in the quarterly meeting of the Smart Belt Coalition.  The coalition includes universities and state transportation agencies in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania to further develop a multi-state connected and automated vehicle real-world testing environment.  Stan is a founding member of the coalition.

The Ohio State University Student-Turned-Employee Racing to the Skies

June 9, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 6, 2020

The Ohio State University student-turned-employee Max Wright is achieving his dreams in the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).  The exploratory research program at the Mobility21 UTC academic partner is allowing him to help researchers and motorsports teams build custom parts to enhance leading research and winning vehicles.  Learn more here.

Women’s Transportation Seminar Award Winners Include Advisory Council Member

June 3, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 21, 2020

Traffic21/Mobility21 Advisory Council member, TRB Executive Committee member and APTA President Paul P. Skoutelas was awarded the Women’s Transportation Seminar’s Honorable Ray LaHood Award, which recognizes efforts to attract, retain, and advance women in transportation. See all of the WTS 2020 Award Winners here.

Updating ACTA on Smart Mobility Challenge Project

June 1, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 1, 2020

This morning Mobility21 UTC researcher Sean Qian, CMU student Rick Grahn, and Program Manager Lisa Kay Schweyer met with representatives of the Airport Corridor Transportation Association.  This meeting was an update for ACTA on the Smart Mobility Challenge project, Data Driven Mobility Service Design: A Case Study for Moon Township.

ACT Creates Resource to Support Employers, Commuters, and Communities For Getting Back to the Workplace Safely

May 28, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 27, 2020

“The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) has developed a resource guide to help inform employers, commuters, and communities on how we can all get back to the workplace safely and efficiently. Prepared by a task force of transportation demand management (TDM) professionals representing service providers, employers, and government agencies, this handbook provides tips for managing many of the most common commute options during the current pandemic.”  Mobility21 UTC Program Manager Lisa Kay Schweyer assisted with the development of this guide as an active participant on this task force.

CMU Students Form Team to Compete in Roborace Autonomous Racing Championship

May 27, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 27, 2020

Carnegie Mellon students from the School of Computer Science have formed a team to compete in this year’s Roborace, an international competition involving autonomous, electrically powered vehicles. Read the full story here

Research Recap: Understanding and Guiding Pedestrian and Crowd Motion

May 27, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 27, 2020

Today Mobility21 UTC released its latest “Research Recap.” The recaps are one-page overviews of the UTC funded research that describe the research project’s purpose, approach, key findings, conclusions, contact information for the research team and a link to the final research report. Check out the one page recap to learn more about this project: Understanding and Guiding Pedestrian and Crowd Motion.

UTC Researcher Fei Fang Presents at CMU Faculty Dialogues Webinar

May 20, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 19, 2020

UTC Researcher Fei Fang presented Saving Wildlife Through A.I. at yesterday’s CMU Faculty Dialogues Webinar.  Professor Fang and her team at the Institute of Software Research  developed PAWS, exploring how A.I. can change the world for the better. #cmu #mobility21

 

IEEE Pittsburgh Seminar Series: Engineers Respond to COVID-19: Engineering Reopening and Renaissance

May 19, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 19, 2020

Tonight, Mobility21 UTC Researcher Yang Cai presented “Engineers Respond To COVID-19: Engineering Reopening and Renaissance” as part of the IEEE Pittsburgh Seminar Services.  Dr. Cai is the Director of Visual Intelligence Studio and Senior Systems Scientist at Cylab Institute and Associate Research Professor of Biomedical Engineering by courtesy, Carnegie Mellon University.

Mobility21 UTC Researcher and CMU Professor Costa Samaras Interviewed for Transportation Episode on PBS

May 19, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

05/18/20

Mobility21 UTC Researcher and CMU Professor Costa Samaras was interviewed as part of a transportation episode of Michael E. Webber‘s Power Trip: The Story of Energy documentary.  Watch the interview here

Mobility21 UTC Updates North Huntingdon Township on Smart Mobility Challenge Project

May 18, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 18, 2020

This morning Mobility21 UTC researcher Sean Qian, Postdoctoral Research Associate Wei Ma, and Program Manager Lisa Kay Schweyer met with North Huntingdon Township Assistant Township Manager Mike Turley and Director of Planning & Zoning Ryan Fonzi.  This was an update meeting for the Smart Mobility Challenge project, Smart Multi-modal Transportation Solution for North Huntingdon Township in Response to Roadway Construction Projects on Route 30.

Association for Commuter Transportation Announces First Ever Cohort of “Certified” Professionals

May 18, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 18, 2020

Mobility21 UTC Program Manager Lisa Kay Schweyer was part of the first group of transportation demand management professionals to ever be “certified” by the Association for Commuter Transportation.  This is the TDM industry’s first ever professional certification.  Learn more here.

Mobility21 UTC Executive Director Stan Caldwell Presents During RETRC Spotlight

May 14, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 14, 2020

Mobility21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell presented the Mobility21 UTC project “Changing Hunger: CMU Works with 412 Food Rescue and Allies for Children to Deliver School Lunches to Children due to COVID-19” during today’s Research, Education, and Training Reauthorization Coalition (RETRC) virtual spotlight for Congressional Offices and Transportation Stakeholders.

There were 85 registrants for the webinar, including 15 from Department of Transportation, 25 from congress, and 40 transportation stakeholders.  Also presenting as part of the webinar were several other university representatives discussing how they are monitoring the impacts of COVID-19, working with health care and policymakers to address COVID-19’s effects, and helping public transportation agencies to address the challenges of the pandemic now and in the future.

RETRC advocates for and advances university transportation research.  RETRC is composed of 22 universities, which work with over 100 different universities spread across 42 states making it a truly national organization.

View Stan’s presentation at 57:00 here

IEEE Pittsburgh Seminar Series: Engineers Respond to COVID-19 – Local Data Tracking and Modeling

May 12, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 12, 2020

Tonight, Mobility21 UTC Researcher Yang Cai presented on “…county-level infection-response data tracker and model as it connects to local EMS directly…” as part of the IEEE Pittsburgh Seminar Services.  Dr. Cai is the Director of Visual Intelligence Studio and Senior Systems Scientist at Cylab Institute and Associate Research Professor of Biomedical Engineering by courtesy, Carnegie Mellon University.

Research Recap: Dynamic Management of Food Redistribution for 412 Food Rescue

May 12, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 12, 2020

Today Mobility21 UTC released its latest “Research Recap.” The recaps are one-page overviews of the UTC funded research that describe the research project’s purpose, approach, key findings, conclusions, contact information for the research team and a link to the final research report. Check out the one page recap to learn more about this project: Dynamic Management of Food Redistribution for 412 Food Rescue.

UTC Researcher Costa Samaras Discusses Coal and US Power with Forbes

May 11, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 11, 2020

UTC Researcher Costa Samaras was recently featured in a Forbes magazine article where he was interviewed about “…the new low that has been reached by the carbon intensity in the U.S. power sector.”  Read the full story here

APMM Panel – New Tech for Local Government

May 11, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 11, 2020

Mobility21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell moderated the presentation for the Association for Pennsylvania Municipal Management (APMM) titled “Ready or Not, Here it Comes: How Disruptive Technologies coming out of the Pittsburgh region will impact our communities and what local governments can do to prepare for and utilize these innovations to deliver more efficient and smarter services to its residents.”

Also on the panel were Greg Barlow, CTO/Founder of Rapid Flow Technologies (a Traffic21/Mobility21 spin-out company);  Tom Musgrove, Government Affairs Manager for Crown Castle; Stew Frick, Partner Success Lead for Robotics (a Traffic21/Mobility21 spin-out company); and Aaron Bibro, Manager of Hatfield Township.

Transportation Research Board Standing Committee on Research Innovation Implementation Convenes

May 5, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

May 5, 2020

Mobility21 UTC Program Manager, Lisa Kay Schweyer, participated today in meeting of the Transportation Research Board AJE35 – Standing Committee on Research Innovation Implementation.

“The Research Innovation Implementation committee focuses on the entire research and innovation life cycles to include ideation, the conduct of research and development, and delivering solutions through technology transfer and implementation activities.”