Will we see self-driving buses on the new bus rapid transit being built in Pittsburgh?

May 20, 2022
Posted in News

Just moments into an interview with Vincent Valdes, executive director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (the group that decides how to spend federal transportation dollars, locally) Valdes brought up the idea of autonomous buses along the BRT route…

Stan Caldwell does a lot of research on technology trends in automated vehicles with his Traffic 21 Institute initiative. He works at Carnegie Melon University and invited Channel 11 to the Navlab, where they’ve been doing research on this type of technology since the 80s.

While they’re not testing any automated buses here, CMU is researching what automation would mean for transit.

“The role of the drivers will be elevated because they still have to take care of the duties of the passengers, maintaining safety of passengers and everything around the vehicle but they also will have to manage the technology,” said Caldwell.

Which is some of the concern for bus riders when Jennifer asked them if they’d ride an autonomous bus.

Signals along ‘Smart Spines’ optimize traffic flow

May 16, 2022
Posted in News

By revamping close to 150 city intersections with adaptive signaling technology, Pittsburgh plans to improve traffic flow and decrease idling times for city buses.

The initiative will incorporate technology from Rapid Flow Technologies’ Scalable Urban Traffic Control program (Surtrac), an artificially intelligent adaptive signal control system first deployed in 2012, into eight high-priority traffic corridors, or “Smart Spines,” throughout Pittsburgh.

Surtrac uses cameras, sensors and radar technology to first capture real-time traffic conditions at each intersection. With that data, it creates an optimization plan for moving traffic through the intersection, which it then sends to the signal controllers in a specific intersection, to nearby signals and to connected vehicles.

“The original application was to decrease congestion and idling time in the neighborhood of East Liberty” where a number of redevelopment projects were already in progress, said Stan Caldwell, executive director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 Institute.

Toyota reinvesting in collaborative safety research

May 9, 2022
Posted in News

To adapt to a swiftly changing mobility ecosystem, Toyota announced on April 27 a new five-year, $30-million investment in its Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC). Created in 2011, the CSRC focuses on foundational safety research, and the $85 million apportioned over its first ten years funded research including the factors that lead to distracted driving, and developing tools and testing procedures related to advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)…

The nine new projects will engage the expertise of: University of Massachusetts – Amherst; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Iowa; Virginia Tech; and Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.

Electric vs. Gas Cars: What Are the Hidden Environmental Costs of EVs?

May 2, 2022
Posted in News

3. Local Climate
Extreme heat and cold have negative effects on the efficiency of electric vehicles. EVs in more extreme climate areas in the U.S. can use up to 15% more energy on average, according to Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Technology. In the very coldest areas, it can be as much as 40% more energy use. Cold weather slows down the chemical reactions that take place inside the lithium-ion batteries that power all-electric cars, and it requires more power for auxiliary electrical systems such as heating. That extra energy use could translate to higher emissions if that power is drawn from fossil-fuel-burning power plants.

But EV battery technology is consistently advancing. Battery packs that take less time to charge and are more energy-dense are in development. EVs are also already built with cooling systems to mitigate the effects of extreme heat on their batteries.

Allegheny, Indiana, Fayette lead 10-county region in number of slow internet connections

April 29, 2022
Posted in News

Allegheny County, followed by Indiana and Fayette counties, had the highest number of homes and businesses with internet connections in a 10-county region with connections so slow they didn’t even qualify as broadband, according to a new study by a Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission-led coalition of nonprofits…

“Rural areas were frustrated by the complete lack of access,” Laura Stephany, health policy director, Allies for Children, said during a briefing Monday about the study. “This is an issue of equity. It’s also an economic development issue.”..

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Allies for Children, and the Metro21 and Traffic21 initiatives at Carnegie Mellon University, collaborated to form Southwest Pennsylvania Connected, a group to advise applicants for funding from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Through the law, some $65 billion will be available to broadband installation and expansion projects in the U.S., with priority given to areas with slow speeds and high poverty recipients without access.

Pittsburgh Technology Council starts apprenticeship program to increase diversity in STEM industry

April 27, 2022
Posted in News

“There’s no reason this [apprenticeship program] can’t work for tech jobs,” said Ms. Russo, who described the program Friday as part of a presentation by Carnegie Mellon University and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to encourage women and minorities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

“How is someone who has been disconnected going to go through a program like this with no pay?” she added. “We’re taking all of the barriers away.”…

During Friday’s discussion, Ms. Russo said the Pittsburgh Technology Council identified some problems it hadn’t realized previously. For example, it’s not an easy commute from a place like Monessen to Pittsburgh, so the agency is looking at what it can do to help ease transportation concerns.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation secretary, Yassmin Gramian, told Ms. Russo to contact her after the meeting to see what the state might do to help address that problem.

As Some Americans Celebrate End Of Travel Mask Mandates, Most Say ‘Not So Fast’

April 26, 2022
Posted in News

Yet despite vocal proponents of the new rule, several polls suggest a majority of the public isn’t ready for masks to come off.

An early April Harris Poll showed that 60% of Americans supported extending air travel mask mandates.Flying in spite of the risks may be the new reality, though the Justice Department is appealing the ruling.

A recent flash poll conducted by OnePulse just before the ruling also found that 60% of respondents believed the government should extend mask mandates. Nonetheless, 61% said they would wear masks voluntarily if mandates ended…

“I believe air travel will continue to increase as we move from a pandemic to endemic posture,” said Stan Caldwell, associate professor of transportation and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College.

Full US transition to electric vehicles still decades away

April 26, 2022
Posted in News

The Biden administration is moving the U.S. toward an all-electric vehicle future, though making it a reality may still be decades away…

A small but growing number of drivers have already switched to electric vehicles, a trend that will need to continue to grow to deliver an all-electric future.

Stan Caldwell, executive director of the Traffic21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, said more consumers will move to cleaner vehicles as more options come to the market.

“With the significant amount of new products coming online from the manufacturers, that’s going to have a significant impact, where it’s not just a couple of offerings out there, you’re really starting to see wider (offerings),” Caldwell said. “The manufacturing of those companies is really starting to increase — they’re just making, Ford, GM and Toyota, all the companies — now are all claiming billions of dollars in new manufacturing facilities.”

Pittsburgh Robotics Network Hosts The State of Our Autonomous Vehicle Industry

April 22, 2022
Posted in What's Happening

April 22, 2022

Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellow Hajra Shahab and Executive Director Stan Caldwell participated in the “The State of Our Autonomous Vehicle Industry” event hosted by Pittsburgh Robotics Network.

Seeing industry leaders in the AV space coming together to discuss the future of this technology and the industry at large was an enriching experience. Hearing from leaders from Aurora, Argo AI, Motional, Waymo, and Locomation about the humble beginnings of this technology to full-scale commercialization and IPO listings speaks to how much the industry has grown in a couple of years. It was also quite interesting to see how each industry leader was or has been very closely affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University, particularly the Robotics Institute and University Professor William (Red) L. Whittaker who happens to have mentored almost everyone on the panel during their time at CMU. Professor Red also received the Pittsburgh Robotics Impact Award for his Leadership and Excellence in Robotics at the event.” – Hajra Shahab

Waynesburg to assist CMU with transportation surveys

April 18, 2022
Posted in News

Representatives from Waynesburg University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership will be conducting surveys focused on transportation with residents throughout Greene County during the spring and summer as a part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Rural County Mobility Platform (RAMP) project.

Waynesburg University was named a sub-recipient of a grant from the Department of Energy to Carnegie Mellon University’s Mobility Data Analytics Center for the RAMP project in 2019. Originally slated to begin in 2020, the project was postponed due to the pandemic.

The three-year project will study transportation issues in Greene County. The goal is to improve mobility in rural Southwestern Pennsylvania, with the potential to advance the fundamental knowledge of how energy-efficient, affordable mobility services can work in rural America, enabling them to be systematically planned, operated, and monitored, inherently merged with system-level modeling.

The future of open city streets could start with smarter traffic lights

April 15, 2022
Posted in News

In 2009, the billionaire industrialist Henry Hillman decided his hometown of Pittsburgh could do better. Its traffic congestion problems weren’t as bad as those of most large US cities, but Hillman had the means to do something about them. His foundation donated to CMU with a writ to work on solutions—a prompt that eventually led to Traffic21, an institute charged with devising novel transportation tech and using the city as a lab to test it.

Hillman’s grant came at a time when Pittsburgh was looking to reinvent itself. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl dreamed of leading the postindustrial steel town into a new era built on research and entrepreneurship. Traffic21’s executive director, Stan Caldwell, began searching for where to start. Civil engineers consistently pointed to the proliferation of traffic cameras: The tools offered lots of data about how folks moved around, but the people sitting in control rooms didn’t have the training to manage or interpret it. “They were saying, ‘We don’t know how to turn that data into information,’” Caldwell recalls.

The Last Big Obstacle to Electric Cars Is All in Your Mind

April 13, 2022
Posted in News

The roughly half of Americans who park in their own driveways or garages can plug in their cars when they get home each night and drive to work the next morning on a full charge. The cost is barely noticeable on their utility bill, about equivalent to running a refrigerator overnight.

For the other half of drivers, who don’t have reliable access to off-street parking, it’s more complicated. Some commuters might be able to charge up at work. Maybe your apartment complex or monthly lot has a few spots where you can plug in an EV. God help you if you need curbside charging in a dense city.

“In places like Manhattan, I know what a pain it is to find a parking spot,” Jeremy Michalek, a mechanical engineering professor and co-founder of the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University, told The Daily Beast. “If you add the constraint that some of those spots have chargers and some of them don’t, it just makes it even more of a nightmare.”

Electric Vehicle Experts Talks Affordability, Minority Communities and More on ‘Auto Trends’

April 12, 2022
Posted in News

In a two-part radio conversation, Auto Trends with JeffCars.com, a syndicated multicultural automotive radio program, talks with two leading EV experts for its first-ever, high-charged discussion concerning the current state of the EV market. Dr. Jeremy Michalek, who is a professor of mechanical engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, joins the show with extensive knowledge of the EV market. Michalek, who is one of the foremost EV authorities in academia, is also a co-founder of Carnegie’s Vehicle Electrification Group.

Alongside him is EV analyst Devin Lindsey, who is an associate director at S&P Global. Lindsey, who is one of the automotive industry’s gurus, concentration centers around alternative propulsion, forecasting and market analysis. More importantly, Lindsey is one of the leading African American EV analysts in the field.

How Cities Are Using Digital Twins Like a SimCity for Policymakers

April 11, 2022
Posted in News

Digital twins could also better demonstrate to the public how data drives policy decisions, but it’s tricky, says Ray Gastil, director of the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. “The amount of data you need to create a visualization [of an entire city] that looks realistic enough for people to identify with is extraordinarily high,” he says. “The level of representation that you get in even the best work that’s done with cities so far is not at the level of what you find in a sophisticated gaming film animation.”

He adds that for most cities, the effort will first concentrate in one particular geographic area or site. Cityzenith has deployed its digital twin technology in four U.S. cities through its Clean Cities Clean Futures campaign to help decarbonize their buildings, starting with specific business districts. It’s expected to sign up a total of 10 cities by the end of this year before taking its digital twin services global.

IDC names 17 winners for its 2022 North America Smart City Awards

April 4, 2022
Posted in News

City of Schenectady, New York
Community Officials Data Exchange C.O.D.E.

Civic Engagement
City and County of San Francisco
With You On Life’s Journey – Human Services Agency

Data-Driven Policing
City of Dallas Violent Crime
Evidence-Based Reduction Plan

Next-Gen Emergency Services
City of Miramar, Florida
Miramar Records Management System

Digital Equity and Accessibility
City of Brownsville, Texas

Economic Development
City of Burbank, California
ONEBurbank Fiber Optic Infrastructure for Economic and Community Development — Burbank Water and Power

City of Albuquerque, New Mexico
Collaboration with Central NM Community College IoT Bootcamp

Public Health and Social Services
Carnegie Mellon University and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Utilizing School Bus Routes and Machine Learning to Deliver Meals to Families in Need

Smart Buildings City of Mesa, Arizona
Mesa City Facilities Automation

Smart Water
City of Morrisville, North Carolina
Connected Parks Initiative

Smart Water
City of Santa Ana, California
Water System Mobile Field Data Management and Mapping

Sustainable Infrastructure
City of Syracuse, New York
Syracuse Smart Street Lighting

Transportation – Connected & Autonomous Vehicles, Public Transit, Ride-Hailing/Ride-Sharing
City of Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach Traffic Data-Sharing Partnership

Transportation – Connected & Autonomous Vehicles, Public Transit, Ride-Hailing/Ride-Sharing
City of Wilson, North Carolina
RIDE powered by Via for Wilson, North Carolina

Transportation Infrastructure
City of Pittsburgh
Move PGH

Transportation Infrastructure
City of Lima, Ohio
Smart Train Avoidance

Urban Planning and Land Use
City of St. Petersburg, Florida
Smart Intersection – Vision Zero

In 2022, Pittsburgh will break ground on a smart city plan over six years in the making

March 30, 2022
Posted in News

When the challenge was announced in 2015, Pittsburgh officials were excited about the chance to use the prize money to shake the city’s reputation as a post-industrial steel town, Stan Caldwell, executive director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 Institute, who worked on the city’s proposal, told us.

“There was a general opinion in Pittsburgh that the challenge was kind of almost tailor-made for us,” Alex Pazuchanics, a former policy advisor to the mayor of Pittsburgh from 2015–2017, told Emerging Tech Brew…

The idea for Smart Spines is rooted in an earlier—and still ongoing—project called Scalable Urban Traffic Control (Surtrac), an “intelligent traffic-control system” that began in 2012 and aims to speed up traffic flow and reduce vehicle idle time. The tech, which was developed at Carnegie Mellon University, has since been commercialized via a company called Rapid Flow Technologies.

You Can Save Money With Usage-Based Auto Insurance — But Should You?

March 28, 2022
Posted in News

Allstate’s program is part of a new breed of insurance programs that use vehicle telematics to create pay-as-you-go insurance policies. They include Progressive Snapshot, State Farm Drive Safe & Save and Nationwide SmartRide. On average, consumers can save anywhere between 5% and 50% on insurance using pay-as-you-go insurance.

The ideas behind these programs are tantalizingly simple: What if you could only pay for the insurance you use? What if an insurance company could reduce your premiums by verifying your good driving habits in real time?

“Telematics has disrupted the automotive insurance industry by providing insurers with customers’ real-time personalized data,” says Stan Caldwell, executive director of Traffic21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He says insurers can now assess risk by a driver’s actual behavior rather than the demographic and geographic averages of many drivers.

“Customers who actually drive fewer miles and drive more safely than the average driver can save money,” he adds.

How smart is your city? NIST provides a framework to measure

March 28, 2022
Posted in News

The goal for developing a guideline and a framework is to provide a standard process for thinking about what gets measured and how, said NIST’s David Wollman, deputy chief of smart connected systems in NIST’s Communications Technology Laboratory…

An emphasis on citizen engagement in project evaluation might help address a “techlash,” according to Stan Caldwell, executive director of Carnegie Mellon University’s transportation research institute, Traffic21.

The dissolution of high-profile smart city efforts like San Diego’s smart streetlights program and Sidewalk Labs’ controversial Quayside project in Toronto shows residents’ skepticism of certain smart city projects or technologies. “My advice for cities is that this is the time where you have to be extra cautious about being very transparent about what we’re doing,” Caldwell said. Cities must engage the public, he said, which often goes counter to how smart cities originally functioned.

Automated trucks could cost 500,000 US jobs, researchers say

March 25, 2022
Posted in News

The University of Michigan, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, published the findings of a new study that predicts drastic changes in the trucking industry.

Under this plan, human drivers would still carry loads from their origination points to truck ports located within about 150 miles. At the titular transfer hubs, trailers and loads would then be shifted from human-controlled vehicles to automated trucks for the long-haul portions of their journey…

Study co-author Parth Vaishnav called trucking “one of the few jobs that give folks with a high school education the chance to make a decent living,” and warned that there continues to be ” little clarity on how automated trucking will be deployed and its economic and political ramifications.”

Vaishnav believes that “Ultimately, societal and political choices can determine the mode of deployment of automated trucking capabilities, as well as the winners and losers of any shift to automation of long-haul trucking.”

GM bets $3.5 billion more on self-driving tech unit as SoftBank exits

March 23, 2022
Posted in News

SoftBank Group Corp’s (9984.T) Vision Fund exited its bet on General Motors (GM) (GM.N) self-driving car subsidiary Cruise as the auto giant upped the ante, investing another $3.45 billion in the loss-making unit…

The SoftBank exit comes as Cruise awaits a regulatory permit to allow it to charge riders for a driverless ride-hailing service launched in San Francisco.

“Based on the experience that we have seen from Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Waymo in Arizona, the revenue that you will generate from that deployment will be very, very small,” said Raj Rajkumar, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, referring to a project developed by the parent of Google.

“It is a long road ahead,” he said, adding that GM and partners like Honda may have to “dig deep into their pockets” to fund the unit for the time being.

Tired of waiting for driverless vehicles? Head to a farm

March 22, 2022
Posted in News

Beginning this fall, green 14-ton tractors that can plow day or night with no one sitting in the cab, or even watching nearby, will come off the John Deere factory assembly line in Waterloo, Iowa, harkening the age of autonomous farming.

The development follows more than a decade-long effort by the world’s largest farm equipment manufacturer, and marks a milestone for automation advocates, who for years have been explaining why driverless cars aren’t quite ready for prime time.

“I’m glad to see they’re coming out and will stimulate the other technologies,” said Raj Rajkumar, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert in autonomous cars…

But, Rajkumar notes, tractors have it easier because they don’t need to contend with other vehicles, pedestrians or the complexities of an urban scene. Tractors can make use of consistent GPS data, unlike cars that can lose contact traveling through tunnels or amid tall buildings.

Smart Mobility Connection featuring Helen Loeb

March 18, 2022
Posted in What's Happening

March 18, 2022

Today’s Smart Mobility Connection session featured Mobility21 UTC Researcher Helen Loeb.   She discussed her project, “Self-Driving Technology and ‘Trust’ – Can a Driving Simulator Help?”  Watch her presentation here.

Self-driving cars could transform the world in unexpected ways

March 14, 2022
Posted in News

Another consideration to make before self-driving cars are fully deployed – how can we make sure their use is equitable?

“There are three key areas that we need to focus on: policy making, data sharing, and technology deployment,” Dr. Corey Harper, an Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told Freethink. He explained that policy could promote self-driving car-sharing companies to equally distribute cars so that no matter where you are, whether you are downtown, in the suburbs, or in low or high-income areas, your wait for a self-driving car is about the same…

“We make a lot of decisions without considering some of these under-served populations,” Harper said. “Moving forward, policy data in the technologies we’re deploying is going to be very important for us to get towards that more sustainable, smart city that we all envision.”

To Reduce Traffic Congestion, Increase Local Micromobility

March 11, 2022
Posted in News

A study from Carnegie Mellon University zeroes in on how micromobility — namely e-bikes — can affect congestion in Seattle, finding that if even 10 percent of short car trips during peak afternoon travel were replaced with micromobility, more than 4,800 car trips would not happen, decreasing vehicle miles traveled by more than 7,300 miles a day, a 2.76 reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The big takeaways are that micromobility could decrease congestion, especially on highly congested corridors. But you’re going to need wide-scale bike lane deployment,” said Corey Harper, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the authors of the study.

It’s estimated that about 50 percent of car trips in urban areas are three miles or less in length, making them a possible candidate for replacement with other modes.

Study: More Bike Lanes Needed to Reduce Traffic Congestion

March 4, 2022
Posted in News

It stands to reason that moving more car trips in urban areas to micromobility modes will reduce congestion. New research quantifies this reduction, offering another tool for policymakers and infrastructure planners.

A study from Carnegie Mellon University zeroes in on how micromobility — namely e-bikes — can affect congestion in Seattle, finding that if even 10 percent of short car trips during peak afternoon travel were replaced with micromobility, more than 4,800 car trips would not happen, decreasing vehicle miles traveled by more than 7,300 miles a day, a 2.76 reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The big takeaways are that micromobility could decrease congestion, especially on highly congested corridors. But you’re going to need wide-scale bike lane deployment,” said Corey Harper, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the authors of the study.