Elgin, RoadBotics Team to Offer Pavement Assessment

June 12, 2019
Posted in News

Elgin Sweeper has partnered with RoadBotics, Inc., to offer Florida’s 400-plus municipalities the ability to collect road condition data during sweeping operations.
Elgin Sweeper Company and RoadBotics Inc. have partnered to offer Florida’s more than 400 municipalities the ability to collect road condition data during sweeping operations, exclusively using Elgin Sweeper street sweepers. The partnership between the sweeper manufacturer and the road assessment company is designed to help local government officials make data-driven road improvement decisions.

According to Mike Higgins, vice president and general manager at Elgin Sweeper, Elgin, IL, the partnership with RoadBotics will enable many of the company’s municipal customers across Florida to receive important data about the conditions of their roads as they sweep.
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Mobility21 UTC Participates in the Celebration of the Oakland Eruv

June 6, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

Angela Blanton, CMU Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer and Lisa Kay Schweyer, Mobility21 UTC Program Manager were in attendance to help celebrate the extension of the local eruv to now include Oakland. When the original Pittsburgh Jewish community’s eruv was constructed, circa mid-1970’s, it primarily encompassed parts of the Squirrel Hill community. By the mid-1990’s and early 2000’s the eruv was expanded to include larger sections of Squirrel Hill and sections of Point Breeze, Greenfield, and Regent Square. UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Carlow University assisted with the extension of the Squirrel Hill eruv to Shadyside and the Oakland neighborhoods, which includes hospitals and universities, allowing greater mobility on Sabbath and Yom Kippur for Jewish communities, especially the Orthodox Jewish communities. Mobility21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell was an active member of the planning committee for this eruv extension.

DARPA challenge announces finalists

May 31, 2019
Posted in News

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) chose 11 teams from around the world to compete in the first scored event of the Subterranean Challenge, and Carnegie Mellon University’s team made the list, according to a news release.

Explorer, which includes team members from CMU and Oregon State University, will participate in the first tunnel circuit, which requires teams to remotely map, identify and report artifacts along underground passages, according to the release.

The CMU team won’t have to travel far, because this year’s competition will be hosted in a research mine in Pittsburgh, managed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Mining Program. The event runs from August 15 to 22.
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1 big thing: The future of big electrics

May 31, 2019
Posted in News

For two reasons, few have been able to imagine an electric pickup. The batteries would be too heavy and expensive, and, it was believed, very few hard-core truck enthusiasts would be seen in a quiet, sissy electric.

Now that battery costs have plunged, pickups “should hit primetime over the next couple of years,” says Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon.
In my travels and speeches, when I am in pickup country, I often ask the audience whether anyone would own an electric F-150. What I get back is a mystified shrug and, “Why not?”
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PlanetM Awards New Grants to Advance Mobility Pilots in Michigan

May 29, 2019
Posted in News

PlanetM, the state of Michigan-backed business development organization, has announced a new batch of grants that aim to entice mobility startups and corporations to pilot their innovations in Michigan, or test and validate their technology at one of Michigan’s proving grounds.

PlanetM has awarded a total of $440,000 in grants to five companies. The startups are working on pilots such as secure delivery of prescription medications to rural locations, new GPS technology, and autonomous campus shuttles. (See below for project descriptions.)…

PlanetM began the mobility grant program last year. Its first award recipients were Derq, HAAS Alert, Humanising Autonomy, and RoadBotics, all of which conducted pilot projects across the state.
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Mobility21 UTC Publishes “Recommended Policies for the 21st Century Trends in US Mobility” Report

May 27, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

May 27, 2019

Mobility21’s Rick Grahn, Stan Caldwell and Chris Hendrickson published a new policy report entitled “Recommended Policies for the 21st Century Trends in US Mobility”. The report analyzes the 2017 National Household Travel Survey which captured impacts of emerging technologies on the transportation system to learn about users of such technologies and shifting travel behaviors resulting from technology adoption.  Read the full report and review the team’s policy recommendations here.

CMU to help airport corridor, North Huntingdon with transportation issues

May 24, 2019
Posted in News

Officials with the Airport Corridor Transportation Association and North Huntingdon will work with traffic experts at Carnegie Mellon University to develop solutions for very different traffic situations.

The airport area group is looking to expand its popular shuttle bus system that takes workers from a Port Authority bus stop directly to their job while North Huntingdon wants help with moving traffic through the area when a major reconstruction project begins on busy Route 30 in a few years. Those projects were selected last week from 11 proposals to CMU’s Smart Mobility Challenge, which uses faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in its Traffic21 institute to help communities solve problems.
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Truck drivers don’t think EVs are up to heavy hauling

May 22, 2019
Posted in News

Charging infrastructure is “one of the largest unknowns and sources of anxiety for fleets considering near-term adoption of this technology,” according to a May, 2019, report the North American Council on Freight Efficiency.

Battery technology, too, still has a way to go before long-distance heavy hauling is reliable, affordable but – perhaps most importantly – light enough. A 2017 study by Carnegie Mellon University found that a battery powerful enough to drive a Class 8 semi-truck (i.e. a truck capable of hauling 18,000 kilograms, or 40 tons) over a distance of 1,000 kilometres would require a battery that weighs more than the cargo. That puts these vehicles at a distinct disadvantage compared with internal combustion engines (ICE), and it will likely remain that way for years, auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers said.
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Tesla’s Trouble With Semi Trucks & Another Shakeup Of The Autopilot Team — Is There A Connection?

May 22, 2019
Posted in News

Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some insight into this this situation. Other than Tesla itself, Carnegie Mellon is ground zero for autonomous driving development in the world. He tells The Verge that in most road situations, there are vehicles to the front, back, and to the side, but a perpendicular vehicle is much less common. The algorithms using the camera output need to be trained to detect trucks that are perpendicular to the direction of the vehicle.

“Essentially, the same incident repeats after three years,” Rajkumar says. “This seems to indicate that these two problems have still not been addressed.” Machine learning and artificial intelligence have inherent limitations, he explains. If sensors “see” what they have never or seldom seen before, they do not know how to handle those situations. “Tesla is not handling the well-known limitations of AI,” he added.
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Tesla didn’t fix an Autopilot problem for three years, and now another person is dead

May 21, 2019
Posted in News

Radar outputs of detected objects are sometimes ignored by the vehicle’s software to deal with the generation of “false positives,” said Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Without these, the radar would “see” an overpass and report that as an obstacle, causing the vehicle to slam on the brakes.

On the computer vision side of the equation, the algorithms using the camera output need to be trained to detect trucks that are perpendicular to the direction of the vehicle, he added. In most road situations, there are vehicles to the front, back, and to the side, but a perpendicular vehicle is much less common.

“Essentially, the same incident repeats after three years,” Rajkumar said. “This seems to indicate that these two problems have still not been addressed.” Machine learning and artificial intelligence have inherent limitations. If sensors “see” what they have never or seldom seen before, they do not know how to handle those situations. “Tesla is not handling the well-known limitations of AI,” he added.
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Ohio, Pennsylvania plan interstate system for managing road work

May 20, 2019
Posted in News

Announced last month by the state of Ohio, the project, called the Work Zone Reservation and Traveler Information System, or WZRTIS, is a partnership between the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, an autonomous and connected vehicle initiative called DriveOhio, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission…

An early planning document shows states plan to build the system using “an open platform to ensure future scalability to local municipalities, partners, and other state transportation agencies. Agencies would have the ability to integrate the WZRTIS into their own [information technology systems], operational, and data systems and processes, and would manage ongoing maintenance and operations.”

Talks on this project originated, Newbacher said, through a body called the Smart Belt Coalition, a group of state government agencies and universities from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
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RoadBotics Aims To Help Municipalities Better Decide Which Roads To Pave And When

May 20, 2019
Posted in News

Street maintenance can be a Sisyphean task. Like in the myth of the Greek king sentenced to push a boulder up a hill for all of eternity, the work of paving and filling potholes and cracks is never really done.

But Pittsburgh company RoadBotics is working to make the task a little less maddening for municipalities, by creating a detailed, interactive map of road conditions.

Each of the company’s drivers is equipped with two smartphones. One phone is affixed on the car dashboard and continuously takes a high definition video of the roadway. The other phone tells the driver the route to take, following municipality-owned and maintained roads.

After the drive is complete, the video is uploaded to a company cloud. Then, the artificial intelligence takes over.

“It basically chops up that video into images,” said Shane Witt, a business development representative at RoadBotics. “So you get an image for every 10 foot length of road.”
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Editorial: Route 30 study needs to be realistic

May 16, 2019
Posted in News

North Huntingdon is one of those clogs in the pipes. It has a rich mix of businesses and a lot of traffic. What it needs is a better way for the two to flow together.

The municipality has recognized that and is going to work with Carnegie Mellon University to find out where the artery is clotting and how it can be treated.

Hopefully the $80,000 study comes up with manageable recommendations that can support not just the traffic but the businesses that line the road.

No doubt the study will show best practices and things that would be ideal.

But just like a visit to a cardiologist can result in very good advice about diet and exercise, it only works if it involves changes that can be incorporated easily and sustained for the long haul.
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CMU, North Huntingdon to join in Route 30 study to improve mobility

May 13, 2019
Posted in News

“We want to look at the broader issue of mobility,” North Huntingdon Assistant Manager Michael Turley said.

Turley’s challenge to CMU was to find a solution to alleviate congestion, while ensuring safety and anticipating travel demands, said Lisa Schweyer, program manager for Traffic 21, one of the CMU groups that will study the problem….

The mobility challenges presented by North Huntingdon and the Airport Corridor Transportation Association were selected by Traffic 21 and Mobility 21 based on the availability of data to answer their problems. The challenges had to match the strengths of CMU’s Mobility Analytics Center team. The Hillman Family Foundation and the National University Transportation Center at CMU are funding the $80,000 study.

“Smart transportation is not just for Smart Cities,” said Stan Caldwell, executive director of Traffic 21 and Mobility 21.
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5 reasons why autonomous cars aren’t coming

May 5, 2019
Posted in News

Sandstorms, rain, fog and heavy snow can block the view of the cameras. Light beams think that they are barriers and can bounce snowflakes off. It does not show the shape of a thing needed to determine what it’s, although radar is able to browse through the weather.

“It’s like losing part of your vision,” says Raj Rajkumar, a computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Researchers are working on laser sensors which use a light beam wavelength to determine through snowflakes, stated Greg McGuire, director of this MCity autonomous car testing laboratory at the University of Michigan. Software also has been developed so vehicles may differentiate between snowflakes and actual obstructions, rain, fog, and other ailments.

But a lot of businesses are still attempting to learn the task of driving a clear day with grip.
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There’s Talk Of $2 Trillion For Infrastructure. How Should The U.S. Spend It?

May 5, 2019
Posted in News

WBUR On Point With Meghna Chakrabarti

President Trump and Democratic leaders say they’ll champion a $2 trillion infrastructure package. It’s purely aspirational for now. But let’s think big — how would you spend it?

Guests
Tanya Snyder, transportation for Politico. (@TSnyderDC)

Stan Caldwell, executive director of Mobility21 National University Transportation Center, one of five U.S. Department of Transportation university research centers. Professor of Transportation and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University. (@HeinzCollege)
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Preventing Landslides: Carnegie Mellon working on spotting hillside issues early

May 1, 2019
Posted in News

Imagine stopping a landslide before it happens.
“They know that there’s a problem, they know it’s affecting mobility, roads are getting shut down, it’s affecting people’s homes,” said Karen Lightman.

Lightman is the executive director of Metro21 Smart Cities, a Carnegie Mellon initiative that joins the research and assets of CMU with municipalities to make living easier…

The city of Pittsburgh is spending millions on remediation and prevention. It’s spend over $500,000 so far this year, with nearly $2 million in awarded contracts…

Turns out, a CMU professor who does work with Metro21 had already been working on the problem.

Christoph Mertz helped start Roadbotics. The company uses a smartphone mounted on a windshield to drive roads, use artificial intelligence to determine their health, then make a recommendation about fixing them before they get too bad.

Mertz is hoping to apply the same technology to hillsides.
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New project to ‘revolutionize’ road work-zone safety

April 30, 2019
Posted in News

Gov. Mike DeWine said he’s commited for Ohio to be a leader in transportation technology. To prove it, he’s worked to create a new project that will make roads and workzones safer — both for drivers and the workers.

DeWine entered a partnership with DriveOhio and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) to create a project that will “dramatically improve” the way Ohio and Pennsylvania manage work zones and increase safety for employees and the traveling public.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently awarded a $2.69 million Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment grant to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation with the OTIC and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as co-recipients for their Work Zone Reservation and Traveler Information System (WZRTIS).

The WZRTIS project was originated in the Smart Belt Coalition and will enhance work zone operations and safety by providing accurate, standardized and real-time work zone information across nearly 41,000 miles of roadway through Pennsylvania and Ohio.
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Pittsburgh’s driving the driverless future

April 25, 2019
Posted in News

It’s no surprise autonomous vehicle development has rooted itself firmly in Pittsburgh considering Carnegie Mellon University’s claim as the birthplace of self-driving technology…

Currently, four AV companies are testing cars on Pittsburgh public roads, and they are becoming increasingly more visible. Fifty-three percent of cyclists and 61 percent of pedestrians surveyed by BikePGH in February said they interacted with a self-driving car on the road.

And the number of people who work at the region’s AV companies is on the rise: In its 2017-2018 Inflection Point update report, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development reported a 324 percent year-over-year growth in job openings related to autonomous vehicles, with 288 job openings in the AV industry during the 12-month period recorded…

On the following pages, we check in with the companies that are driving Pittsburgh’s position as a leader in the AV revolution to see where they are at.
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5 Reasons Experts Think Autonomous Cars Are Many Years Away

April 24, 2019
Posted in News

When it’s heavy enough to cover the pavement, snow blocks the view of lane lines that vehicle cameras use to find their way. Researchers so far haven’t figured out a way around this. That’s why much of the testing is done in warm-weather climates such as Arizona and California.

Heavy snow, rain, fog and sandstorms can obstruct the view of cameras. Light beams sent out by laser sensors can bounce off snowflakes and think they are obstacles. Radar can see through the weather, but it doesn’t show the shape of an object needed for computers to figure out what it is.

“It’s like losing part of your vision,” says Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
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Here’s what’s bringing 125+ VCs to Pittsburgh next month

April 23, 2019
Posted in News

Investor attendees signed up for the region’s upcoming robotics and artificial intelligence venture fair have increased by 25 percent over the initial event last year and are expected to go even higher as Pittsburgh’s reputation as a hot bed for startups continues to accelerate.

The fair, developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Innovation Works, will be held at CMU’s Swartz Center on May 16. Last year’s was the region’s first venture fair to focus on a specific industry.

“We have 125 investors signed up and could reach 150 by May 10,” said Gary Glausser, IW CIO. “We’re pretty excited and getting some of the top firms who only invest in AI, robotics and machine-learning.”…

“I think the sophistication level and quality of VCs has gone up,” said Mark DeSantis, CEO of RoadBotics which also presented in 2018. “Last year for us was more of a set up for this year. We were pretty far along with our fundraising then, but I wanted to preview it. It got us good contacts and a running start for our Series A round.”
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Community buy-in and open dialogue are key in city, academia collaboration

April 23, 2019
Posted in News

In a recent interview with Smart Cities Dive, Karen Lightman, executive director of the university’s Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, said the organization has been successful in assisting Pittsburgh’s pilot programs and initiatives due to the deliberate nature with which it chooses the projects it works on with the city…

“We don’t want to run your streets like we’re Carnegie Mellon,” she said. “We’re a research institute. We’re also not consultants. So we’re not going to run your streets for you but we’re going to show you how to do it efficiently and effectively and then you decide. You make the policy decision, you make the investment and if you want to do this. Again, it’s technology as a tool, not a guide.”
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Savannah has been named a finalist for the Smart City Award

April 23, 2019
Posted in News

The City of Savannah has been named a finalist in the Transportation/Infrastructure category for its partnership with the company Roadbotics. It’s a recognition bestowed by International Data Corporation’s 2019 Smart Cities North America Awards. Roadbotics worked with the city to create a database of road infrastructure conditions through machine learning technology that grades every mile of the Savannah road network.
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Economic development is priority for Sandy Twp.

April 23, 2019
Posted in News

One of the biggest priorities on Sandy Township’s list is local economic development, according to Manager Shawn Arbaugh…

The township is also planning a five-year capital program for vehicles and equipment, in addition to a 10-year plan for township roads, he said.

RoadBotics, of Pittsburgh, takes hundreds of thousands of photos of roadways and then runs them through a computer modeling system to identify defects, Arbaugh said.

“It’s really great because you have all these photos cataloged so you can always go back and take a look at the defects and repairs needed,” said Arbaugh. “It just gives you a nice mapping of your roadways. So we’re looking forward to partnering with them.”

One of the things RoadBotics doesn’t have any experience with is dirt and gravel roads, Arbaugh said.

“They actually told us they could do those roads for us for free to help develop their software that they’re working on. So we’re going to partner with them later this year on that project,” he said.
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North Carolina trying to attract more ‘cleantech’ companies

April 23, 2019
Posted in News

“The Joules Accelerator goes out and tries to identify cleantech early-stage companies that can come back to our region between Charlotte and Raleigh and hopefully engage the community,” said Bob Irvin, executive director of the Joules Accelerator.

“A lot of it is happening out in California, Texas and New York, so we kind of have to bring it here,” Irvin said.

So they did. Eight startups from around the country were selected for this year’s program. One is based in Pittsburgh and has figured out a way to use cell phones to find potholes.

“Roadbotics assesses roads using a standard cellphone and AI (artificial intelligence),” said Roadbotics CEO Mark Desantis.

Their customers are usually cities, which can then save taxpayer money by using technology to be proactive in road maintenance.
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