Ohio State researchers developing app for pedestrian safety

January 23, 2023
Posted in News

After working with the City of Marysville and observing data from one of their smart intersections, these professors, including Professor Levent Guvenc, Ph.D. who teaches mechanical and aerospace engineering, noted pedestrians’ movements can be quick and unpredictable, and they are often hard to see.

They asked themselves how could drivers be alerted to pedestrians without necessarily needing to see them first.

That’s where their app development started.

Most cellphones people use have GPS systems and Bluetooth capabilities allowing them to connect to each other.

From those capabilities, Doctor Guvenc and his team at the Ohio State University’s College of Engineering created an app for pedestrians and drivers to keep everyone on the road safe.

Drivers and pedestrians who download the app will be able to get alerts that tell drivers, for example, to slow down because there is a pedestrian they may not be able to see around their vehicle.

Destination unknown? Pittsburgh’s autonomous vehicle industry seeks a new course after a disastrous season.

January 16, 2023
Posted in News

“We’re definitely in a colder period now,” said John Dolan, a systems engineer and professor at the CMU Argo AI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research. “A bit of an autonomous driving winter perhaps, as we’ve seen with some of these recent closures. I just don’t know how it’s going to go in the future.”

Pittsburgh put itself on the autonomy map in 2007, when Carnegie Mellon University’s Tartan Racing team won the DARPA Urban Challenge, a 60-mile driverless race. Notable alumni of the CMU team include Urmson; Raj Rajkumar, director of Mobility21, a smart transportation initiative; Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI; and Dave Ferguson, co-founder and president of Nuro, another AV company.

In 2008, General Motors revitalized an early 2000s partnership with CMU to advance driverless technology. The industry really started rolling a few years later. “In the middle 2010s, I was getting contacted on almost a weekly basis by reporters asking about what was going to make the difference,” said Dolan. “What were the gaps in autonomous driving technology? When were things going to be broadly deployed on roads?”

Electric planes sound like a fantasy but they may be the future for short-haul in Australia

January 13, 2023
Posted in News

The main obstacle for long-haul operators is weight. Two decades before the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903, a two-man crew took the airship La France on the first round trip by an aerial vehicle.It carried a 435kg zinc-chlorine battery on its 8km journey – the equivalent of hauling around a grand piano.

A modern battery this massive would still provide only a fraction of the power required for a commercial passenger aircraft with 150 or more seats.

In January Carnegie Mellon University’s Prof Venkat Viswanathan wrote an article for Nature on the future of batteries in aviation which has become a call-to-arms for engineers in the industry. Viswanathan and his coauthors concluded that it was possible to make significant gains in battery chemistry for use in aviation by 2030 – but only if everything went right along the way. And even then, they would still not be capable of powering the largest passenger aircraft.

What Happens to the Future of Electric Cars if Tesla Dies?

January 13, 2023
Posted in News

Tesla revolutionized the way the world sees and drives EVs—but with its back against the wall and the financial situation looking more and more bleak by the tweet, we might very well soon find ourselves in a situation where the biggest name in the game has gone belly up.

Let’s be clear: there’s a fairly low chance of that happening… but what if it does?

To understand the impact Tesla’s disappearance would have on the future of EVs, it’s important to wrap our minds around how exactly we got here.

“I give Elon Musk a lot of credit. He almost single-handedly made electric vehicles glamorous and sexy,” Ragunathan “Raj” Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and autonomous vehicle researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, told The Daily Beast. “People associated them with the person who was transforming the automotive industry and doing the right thing for the planet.”

We asked 17 smart people to predict the future of transportation in 2023

January 6, 2023
Posted in News

Here at The Verge, we keep our unwavering eyes always on the future, which is why I thought it could be cool to reach out to a bunch of my favorite smart people in transportation to get their predictions for 2023…

Raj Rajkumar, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University

There will be an ongoing retrenchment of the AV industry. Expect more layoffs in the large AV companies and at least one more high-profile flameout like Argo AI. Emphasis will dramatically shift from full autonomy and robotaxis to ADAS++ and high automation features. I, for one, am very bullish on the viability and appeal of advanced autonomy (as opposed to full autonomy, which will still take time).

Some existing partnerships between OEMs and high-profile AV startups will f(l)ail since the latter are unable to deliver. This will be particularly true for startups that only depend on cameras as their AV sensors.

Park Clean Up Leads to Students’ Developing New Tool for Transit Riders

December 12, 2022
Posted in What's Happening

December 12, 2022

On October 29, after arriving to Phillips Park to help with a local clean-up effort, MCMU Students - Shirui Liang, Maria Manrique, Keziah Virdayantiobility21 UTC Program Manager, Lisa Kay Schweyer was surprised to learn 3 Carnegie Mellon University students (Shirui Liang, Maria Manrique, Keziah Virdayanti) were also there to help with the volunteer activity.  She joined the students while picking up litter and had a chance to share what she does at CMU, hear about their trip on the local bus to the park (and uncertainty of riding somewhere new), and learn more about the students’ interest in transportation and the project they had been thinking about for their Integrated Innovation Institute Design Methods class.

Within a week, the students invited Lisa Kay to meet with the project team to learn more about her experience in helping commuters find non-single occupancy vehicle travel.  From that conversation, and their own experience navigating transit systems, the group decided to work on a way to use technology to make the experience of first-time bus riders less stressful.

The team, Shirui Liang, Kaila Richardson, Dongwen Xu, Siyue Shen, Saisri Akondi, Mei Tamaki, and Ashish Mangal dove in, conducted research, used various integrated innovation methods and conducted testing to finally propose their solution – an “AR Your Guide“! Class presentation - Shirui Liang, Kaila Richardson, Dongwen Xu, Siyue Shen, Saisri Akondi and Ashish Mangal

The solution is an augmented reality feature that can be integrated into existing transportation apps. The design turns the bus searching and riding experience into a “Pokemon Go” like game. It provides users with an interactive guide that leads them to unfamiliar bus stops and instructs people new to bus transportation how to pay, track, and request stops.

The team is hoping that app developers use their work to make this solution a reality.


How Uber and Lyft are transforming U.S. cities

December 7, 2022
Posted in News

Over the last decade, the meteoric rise of ridesourcing services like Uber and Lyft have transformed the urban landscape, affecting travel patterns, car ownership, and congestion, and more broadly, the economy, the environment, and equity.

The ways in which Uber and Lyft are redefining mobility is the focus of a new policy brief series, ” Uber and Lyft in U.S. Cities: Findings and Recommendations from Carnegie Mellon University Research on Transportation Network Companies (TNCs).”

The brief series, a compilation of studies conducted by Jeremy Michalek, the lead author, and other Carnegie Mellon Engineering researchers, delves into the implications and opportunities that TNCs present…

On the plus side, the researchers found that TNCs have increased economic growth, employment, and wages for intermittent jobs in U.S. cities.

“However, Uber and Lyft affect different kinds of cities differently, and that is important to understanding their impact,” explains Michalek.

All routes lead to cleaner air

November 8, 2022
Posted in News

One of the longest running smart transport projects is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. In July 2012, the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University deployed its adaptive traffic signal technology, Surtrac in nine traffic junction sites in the East Liberty area of the city.

The AI/robotic system treats traffic control at these junctions as a single machine scheduling issue…

Stephen F Smith, research professor and director of the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Lab, The Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University explained: “At the beginning of each planning cycle, a given intersection perceives the approaching (or already queued) traffic from its local sensors and builds a prediction of when it expects each approaching vehicle to arrive at the intersection. Then, in real-time it constructs a “signal timing plan” (a schedule of ‘green’ times for each intersection phase) that moves all of the sensed traffic through the intersection in a way that minimises cumulative wait time.

Gov. Wolf signs legislation permitting driverless vehicles on public roads into law

November 4, 2022
Posted in News

With the stroke of Gov. Tom Wolf’s pen, House Bill 2398 has now become law following months of negotiations and the bulk of it will take effect in July 2023. Late last month, the bi-partisan bill passed the House with a vote of 119-79 in favor after making its way through the Senate with a vote of 29-20 in favor…

The bill’s adoption is the result of work from a coalition of advocates, including Pittsburgh-based AV companies, research firms, universities and PennDOT. Opponents of the bill have expressed concerns over the potential labor implications it carries especially as it relates to claims that there aren’t enough protections for unions and workers, like truck drivers, that the implementation of this technology is set to impact the most.

“I encourage the General Assembly to ensure that Pennsylvania workers are supported in the event that highly automated vehicles cause disruption to the current and evolving workforce,” Wolf said.

Self-driving car company’s sudden shutdown is a ‘shock’

November 1, 2022
Posted in News

A promising autonomous vehicle company that had raised billions of dollars has suddenly folded.

Argo AI, headquartered in Pittsburgh, had been considered an up-and-coming startup. News of its shutdown came as its main backers, Ford and Volkswagen, decided to no longer invest.

“The shutdown of Argo AI was a big shock to the Pittsburgh community, especially because they were kind of seen as a Cinderella story for autonomous vehicle companies, growing up with homegrown talent and getting on the national stage, being based here in Pittsburgh,” said Stan Caldwell, Executive Director of Traffic21, a traffic research institute with Carnegie Mellon University…

With that said, he doesn’t expect the industry to take a downward turn.

“I believe the industry is still going to be thriving, here in Pennsylvania and nationally,” he said. “But this has just been such a volatile industry. This is a very new industry. And there are a lot of players that continue to come in and out.”

Self-driving car company’s sudden shutdown is a ‘shock’

October 31, 2022
Posted in News

Argo AI, headquartered in Pittsburgh, had been considered an up-and-coming startup. News of its shutdown came as its main backers, Ford and Volkswagen, decided to no longer invest.

“The shutdown of Argo AI was a big shock to the Pittsburgh community, especially because they were kind of seen as a Cinderella story for autonomous vehicle companies, growing up with homegrown talent and getting on the national stage, being based here in Pittsburgh,” said Stan Caldwell, Executive Director of Traffic21, a traffic research institute with Carnegie Mellon University…

“I believe the industry is still going to be thriving, here in Pennsylvania and nationally,” he said. “But this has just been such a volatile industry. This is a very new industry. And there are a lot of players that continue to come in and out.”

Your Car’s Driving Assistance Tech Isn’t Meant to Be Used Alone—Here’s Why

October 25, 2022
Posted in News

A new study finds that drivers using driver assistance features often treat their vehicles as fully self-driving.

“These applications still require the human to keep their eyes on the road and hands ready to take over the wheel, just as we have been doing with traditional cruise control for decades,” Stan Caldwell, a professor of transportation and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University told Lifewire in an email interview…

Vehicles that you can buy currently can have levels 1 and 2 automation and include applications such as automated lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and automated emergency braking, Caldwell said.

“Level 3 automation is coming, and already on some roads in Germany with Mercedes, where eyes can be off the road, but the human driver still may have to take over,” he added. “My concern is that if people are already over-relying on Level 2 automation, the situation may get worse.”

Mobility21 UTC Researcher Publishes Policy Brief on Mixed Autonomy Era of Transportation

October 19, 2022
Posted in What's Happening

August 15, 2022

Mobility21 UTC researcher Carlee Joe-Wong co-authored the recently published policy brief, “Mixed-Autonomy Era of Transportation: Resilience & Autonomous Fleet Management.”  Read the full policy brief here.

Tesla will remove more vehicle sensors amid Autopilot scrutiny

October 14, 2022
Posted in News

Tesla Inc said on Tuesday it will remove ultrasonic sensors from its vehicles starting this month, as it moves ahead with using only cameras in its safety and driver-assistant features.

Tesla vehicles now have 12 ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear bumpers, and short-range sound sensors are mainly used in parking applications and to detect close objects…

Tesla said it will remove ultrasonic sensors from the Model 3 and Model Y globally over the next few months, followed by the Model S and Model X in 2023.

The transition will temporarily limit automated parking features, but not affect crash safety ratings, Tesla noted.

“It remains to be seen whether this will be ‘two steps forward and one step backward’ or the other way around,” said Raj Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University

Drones could make last-mile package deliveries greener

October 11, 2022
Posted in News

Using drones for the last mile of package deliveries uses less energy and creates fewer emissions than conventional means, a new study shows.

As consumers, we’ve gotten used to the immediacy of deliveries. Order a product one day and have it at your house the next. But the logistics behind this massive movement of goods—and its environmental impact—mean that better solutions are needed to balance consumer demand and the energy consumption of “last-mile” deliveries.

To address this issue, researchers looked at what they refer to as “an increase in the demand for last-mile delivery while trying to reduce the environmental impacts of the transportation sector.”

Many companies are exploring using autonomous vehicles to perform last-mile delivery, says Thiago Rodrigues, a PhD candidate in civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Using AI and robots to speed up optimization of new battery development

October 7, 2022
Posted in News

A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a new approach to speeding up the process of creating ever more optimized batteries. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes how they paired a unique type of robot with an AI learning system to create ever more useful non-aqueous liquid electrolytes.

As sales of handheld devices have skyrocketed and car makers have turned to electric vehicles, demand for batteries that last longer and charge more quickly has risen as well. Unfortunately, the science of developing new batteries to serve such needs has lagged—it typically involves the use of intuition on the part of chemists along with persistence. Such efforts can take years. In this new study, the researchers in Pittsburgh sought to speed up the process by using automation techniques.

When Will AVs Actually Start to Smooth Traffic Flows?

October 4, 2022
Posted in News

Autonomous vehicles have the ability to make traffic move smoother. But first, they need to be more widely deployed. And that means creating the right regulations for the right cars.

At least 20 percent of the vehicles on the roadways will need to be autonomous in order to realize the traffic operational gains that come with connected vehicles, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University.

“One of the goals of our work was to quantify the amount of AVs [autonomous vehicles] under which we would begin to realize these traffic and congestion benefits; surprisingly, we found that only 20 percent are needed,” said Carlee Joe-Wong, one of the authors of the report, Mixed-Autonomy Era of Transportation: Resilience and Autonomous Fleet Management. “And that 50-ish percent AVs was sufficient for realizing most of the gains.”

To break an impasse in connected vehicle tech, transportation leaders call for a federal policy framework

September 27, 2022
Posted in News

Because experts worry there will not be enough spectrum for vehicle-to-everything communications in the long term, the FCC needs to do a complete analysis of the transportation industry’s spectrum requirements, said Jon Peha, an engineering professor and expert on information networks at Carnegie Mellon University who previously served as the FCC’s chief technologist.

The agency initially dedicated 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 gigahertz band for intelligent transportation systems, but the new policy slashed that figure to 30 MHz, effectively making DSRC obsolete, Peha said. Now the only technology that anyone can use in the band is cellular vehicle-to-everything, or C-V2X, “which means any infrastructure that had already been deployed will no longer be useful,” he said. “You have to change your plans to adopt the current technology.”

Why Smart Cities are About More Than Just Tech

September 16, 2022
Posted in News

From optimizing school bus routes using machine learning to testing new ways to gather data on air quality, Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has worked on a wide range of projects over the years. The organization’s aim is to look for ways that cutting-edge technology can benefit cities and their residents. Karen Lightman joined Metro21 in 2017 and is now executive director. The institute, established in 2015, serves as an intermediary between local government and nonprofit partners who have identified problems they want to solve and faculty researchers seeking to test their work in real-world settings.

Route Fifty talked with Lightman about the kinds of problems smart cities technology can address and how important equity is in those projects. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Oakland’s First Sidewalk Poetry Contest Celebrates Its History and Future

September 9, 2022
Posted in News

The sidewalks of Oakland (Pittsburgh) have undergone a revamping, with lines of poetry scattered across the neighborhood reflecting on the beloved history and heart of Oakland. Oakland Business Improvement District held its first sidewalk poetry contest to celebrate April as National Poetry Month. This project was inspired by artist Marcus Young with Public Art Saint Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Lisa Kay Schweyer, a contest winner and a program manager for the transportation research institute Traffic21 at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote her poem about some of the overlooked but important Oakland features. Schweyer said she hopes the group will continue this project as a testament to the “transient nature of Oakland”

“Eventually the paint will disintegrate, so it’s a transient way to highlight how people feel about the community and it gives people who are walking something to look at while they’re looking down other than their phones,” Schweyer said.

What RoadBotics’ acquisition by Michelin means for the homegrown AI company

September 7, 2022
Posted in News

Since 2016, Pittsburgh-based RoadBotics’ artificial intelligence technology has mapped the condition of infrastructure for 250 governments across the world. Still, the Carnegie Mellon University spinout wants to go bigger.

Thanks to its recent acquisition by Michelin, the French tire manufacturing giant, the company can look forward to reaching more customers, faster.

“The exciting part for RoadBotics is that moving into this much larger organization should really transform the way that we can get what we do in front of more people,” cofounder Benjamin Schmidt, Ph.D., told Technical.ly. Schmidt was previously RoadBotics’ CEO, but his title was changed to global CTO at the time of the acquisition…

What RoadBotics gets out of the deal (for which financial details were not disclosed) is the international company’s resources and guidance. With Michelin’s financial support, Schmidt said, the Pittsburgh company will be able to reach more people and provide services in a more timely manner.

The space race for our cellphones

September 2, 2022
Posted in News

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert late last week announced plans to start delivering service through SpaceX’s Starlink by the end of next year in the United States…

Sievert described the vision as putting cell towers in the sky, but “a lot harder.”
The partnership would effectively enable cellphones to do what satellite phones can do, Jon Peha, former FCC chief technologist and professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, tells Axios.
“They’re no longer separate devices. It’s one device that does both,” he said.

State of play: AST SpaceMobile and Lynk are other major competitors working to make cell coverage direct from space a reality…

The ultimate goal is to offer high-speed mobile internet access via satellite.

“No one company or even a number of these companies [will] be able to meet all the needs,” Peha said.

Pittsburgh tests program to provide free transportation for lower-income residents

August 23, 2022
Posted in News

Pittsburgh is launching a pilot program that will provide 50 city residents with free access to public transportation and other alternate means of transportation for one year. Officials said the initiative would help alleviate the financial burden of transportation…

Participants in the “Guaranteed Basic Mobility” program will be able to ride the bus, light rail, POGOH bikes, Spin Scooters or order a Zipcar free of charge. Eligible participants will be residents who receive some form of government assistance and who lack regular access to a personal vehicle. They must also be actively seeking a job or pursuing more hours of work…

The new pilot will be supported by a $200,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Spin, the participating scooter company, has put up $50,000 toward the project.

The 50 residents who take part in the pilot will be recruited by the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, Carnegie Mellon University and the Manchester Citizens Corporation.

People are now testing Tesla’s ‘full self-driving’ on real kids

August 23, 2022
Posted in News

Cupani filmed the test of “full self-driving” in a parking lot. His son stood near the end of an aisle holding a smartphone to film the test…

Detecting smaller objects like young children quickly and accurately will generally be more difficult than sensing large objects and adults for a computer vision system like what Tesla vehicles rely on, according to Raj Rajkumar, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who researches autonomous vehicles.

The more pixels an object takes up in a camera image, the more information the system has to detect features and identify the object. The system will also be impacted by the data it is trained on, such as how many images of small children it’s exposed to.

“Computer vision with machine learning is not 100% foolproof,” Rajkumar said. “Just like diagnosis of a disease, there are always false positives and negatives.”

Traveling this summer? It’s never too soon to start planning your ground transportation.

August 17, 2022
Posted in News

Getting around on vacation is getting harder than ever. With another car rental shortage forecast for this summer, you might find yourself stranded at your hotel or vacation rental. But there are new ways to solve your ground transportation problems…

Travelers are starting to rethink ground transportation. Stan Caldwell, an associate professor of transportation and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, says new “mobility as service” platforms are offering travelers more options for getting around.

If you’re traveling to Pittsburgh, consider downloading the Transit app, which partnered with MovePGH to let users combine inexpensive, shared mobility options with the city’s mass transit. “These services include public transportation, bike and scooter share and ride-hail services like Lyft and Uber,” he says.

If you’re headed to Europe, you can download an app called Whim that allows you to access transportation options in places like Antwerp, Belgium; Helsinki; and Vienna.