Gridwise partners with CMU to find uses for its data

December 9, 2019
Posted in News

Pittsburgh-based Gridwise announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University’s Mobility Data Analytics Center in an effort to put the rideshare data it collects to good use.

Gridwise, which provides information for rideshare drivers to maximize their time and income, can also use the macro-level trends they see for other applications.

Gridwise CEO Ryan Green said the collaboration will focus on on-demand mobility for people, goods and services in Pittsburgh and set the groundwork for city level improvements. That could mean things like using rideshare data to determine the infrastructure in most critical need of improvement, how to better manage the city’s curbs, how to address public transit availability in underserved areas and how to mitigate traffic congestion.
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Battery prices are crashing. That’s good news.

December 4, 2019
Posted in News

rices for battery packs — used for electric vehicles and energy storage systems — are down 87% over the last decade, according to a new report from BloombergNEF, and still falling. The battery packs will soon reach a price competitive with traditional internal combustion engine cars.

Battery storage is measured in kilowatt-hours. A large battery for an electric vehicle is around 100kWh. In 2010, the average cost for that would have been $110,000. Now it’s just over $15,000.

“The decline in battery prices keeps astounding even all the experts,” said Costa Samaras, who researches energy and climate change at Carnegie Mellon University. “Nobody thought it would drop this far this fast.”

It’s dropped due to improvements in manufacturing, battery chemistry and tighter supply chain control. The biggest beneficiaries, Samaras said, are electric vehicles.

“It’s really, really important for cars to be electrified to deal with climate change, and the cheap battery is at the center of that,” Samaras said.
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TRAILBLAZERS These women in technology are breaking the mold, taking on roles once dominated by men.

November 25, 2019
Posted in News

While men may still hold the majority of jobs in the technology sector, more and more women are taking leading roles managing efforts to advance the use of technology at companies across western Pennsylvania.

These profiles introduce women who are at the forefront of technological advancements for area firms.

These women have founded companies, worked to make self-driving cars a reality and integrated technology into the operations of well-known consumer operations…

Courtney Ehrlichman started bike commuting in Pittsburgh in 1998. She spent much of her career working at the Traffic21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and her interest in technology grew right alongside her passion to change the way transportation works.

Ehrlichman co-founded RoadBotics, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to help local governments and organizations make data-driven decisions about their roads and infrastructure, in 2016.

She built up a team there, but she wanted to maintain her thought leadership and work on transportation issues on a more macro level, so she started her own firm The Ehrlichman Group.  The group advises startups, firms, industry and governments on the future of transportation and helps people push forward ideas for responsible tech in the space.
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The world’s first robot car death was the result of human error — and it can happen again

November 25, 2019
Posted in News

On November 20th, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released the results of its investigation into the 2018 fatal Uber crash in Tempe, Arizona, which was widely believed to be the world’s first death by a self-driving car.

But rather than slap the cuffs on Uber’s robot car, investigators instead highlighted the many human errors that culminated in the death of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. And they sounded a warning: it could happen again…

When the board read aloud its findings on the probable cause of the crash in Tempe, the first person to be blamed was Rafaela Vasquez, the safety driver in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Vasquez was never called out by name, but her failures as a watchdog for the automated driving system were put on stark display by the NTSB…

Overly restrictive federal regulations at this stage of a rapidly changing technology will very likely cause significantly more harm than good, said Raj Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “Just because Uber and their operator then behaved badly, everybody else should not be penalized,” he said.
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Waynesburg University and CMU partner to battle rural food insecurity

November 22, 2019
Posted in News

Carnegie Mellon University, located in the heart of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, recently started working with Waynesburg University on the foundation of a universal service accomplishment. Through the partnership, the two schools focus on conquering food insecurity in rural areas — more specifically, Greene County, Pennsylvania.

“It’s the notion of looking at a large university that’s world class in research [and] development, and then a world class liberal arts institution like Waynesburg,” President Douglas Lee said. “It’s having a real impact on the community through service and the programs we offer.”…

Rural transportation is more scarce than public transportation in urban communities. The Department of Energy awarded a grant to Waynesburg University and Carnegie Mellon University to help study the issue of rural transportation.

President Lee describes this conquest to end food insecurity as having “national consequences” and extending far past the limits of Greene County or Allegheny County, as these solutions could impact rural communities across the country.
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Uber’s self-driving cars are back on Pittsburgh’s roads, but a fatal crash in Arizona still sticks with them

November 19, 2019
Posted in News

The city remained a center for autonomous vehicle technology development — and that remained a source of pride for Pittsburgh residents.

“It’s a huge banner of success for the community that this very advanced, cutting edge, ‘the world is watching,’ is happening right here in our backyard,” said RoadBotics President Benjamin Schmidt.

East Liberty-based RoadBotics uses technology to help governments better understand and improve infrastructure. Right now, cities are looking at things like fixing potholes and repainting lane markers to make it safer for drivers and autonomous vehicles.

“It’s all these sorts of things that people need to navigate effectively, but then it just makes it harder for machines and algorithms to navigate the same space,” Mr. Schmidt said. “We’re looking at the future right now.”
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Announces $8 Million Grant At Special Traffic21 Conference At Carnegie Mellon

November 14, 2019
Posted in News

Carnegie Mellon University welcomed the transportation secretary as it celebrated a landmark day for one of its groundbreaking programs.

Carnegie Mellon University celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Traffic21 program on Thursday.

The program’s goal is to design, test, and develop technology to address traffic problems in the Pittsburgh area.

CMU’s groundbreaking program has already made a major impact on the community.

“The work of Traffic21 and its university transportation center has resulted in three spinoff companies that have created hundreds of technology jobs in Pittsburgh, attracted tens of millions of dollars in private investment,” noted CMU president Farnam Jahanian at a special two-day conference that began Thursday.
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Says CMU Research Will Help Address Automated Vehicle Concerns

November 14, 2019
Posted in News

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said Carnegie Mellon University is leading the way in automated transportation research on a visit to Pittsburgh Thursday, citing $8.4 million Department of Transportation grants the university received in conjunction with PennDOT.

“Pennsylvania received the largest of the automated driving system’s grants,” Chao said during a Thursday-afternoon speech at CMU. “This demonstration project will study the safe integration of automated driving technology into work zones. That’s so important, because a disproportionate number of roadway workers and first responders are hurt in work zones.”

Chao spoke at an event celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Traffic21, an institute at CMU intended to create an “intelligent transportation system” in the Pittsburgh region.

Chao said new transportation technology like automated vehicles will only grow in the future, though she recognized the public’s distrust of and uncertainty about it.
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CMU celebrates 10 years of Traffic21 innovations

November 14, 2019
Posted in News

What started 10 years ago after late Pittsburgh philanthropist Henry L. Hillman saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about reducing traffic congestion has grown into a research institute that regularly produces world-class transportation innovations and has spun off several thriving businesses.

Carnegie Mellon University celebrated the 10-year anniversary Thursday of Traffic21, its transportation research institute that has spearheaded research in self-driving vehicles and smart traffic signals and helped communities and organizations solve traffic problems. The university is the host of a 10-Year Anniversary Symposium on Thursday and Friday to discuss emerging transportation technology and how best to deploy it.
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Unique service helping areas with limited public transportation

November 14, 2019
Posted in News

What happens if you rely on public transportation to get work, but it doesn’t get you close enough?

There’s a service in the airport corridor that’s looking to expand its coverage area to help more people, and Carnegie Mellon University is helping them figure out the best way to do it…

CMU professor Sean Qian and his students are studying whether pickup and dropoff locations should change or if they can create an app so riders can report their location.

It’s the second year the university is doing what it calls a Smart Mobility Challenge to help suburban communities dealing with mobility issues.

“It’s very exciting that CMU researchers such as me … that we can use the technologies that was in the research in the university, and then we can try to apply the technology and test the technology in the real-world environment,” Qian said.
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With all of the amenities of a mini city, research takes flight at Pittsburgh International Airport

November 13, 2019
Posted in News

Carnegie Mellon University’s research partnership with Allegheny County Airport Authority began six years ago where most trips start: in the parking lot.

In 2013, School of Computer Science Research Professor Alex Hauptmann pulled into Pittsburgh International Airport’s giant parking lot. Round and round he drove, up and down the lanes. Minutes passed, as did dozens of filled parking spots. Finally, he found an empty one. And an idea.

“There had to be a better way,” Hauptmann remembers. “So I approached the airport with a concept to make parking easier.”

Hauptmann and his students developed an app that used real-time parking information that detected available spaces, tracked cars and enabled navigation.

And so began a collaboration between the university and Pittsburgh International that has since produced nearly a dozen other projects, from understanding how people get around the airport to what they buy.
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Federal Report On Fatal Uber Crash Reveals The Tech Wasn’t Equipped To Detect Jaywalkers

November 13, 2019
Posted in News

Raj Rajkumar, an expert on autonomous cars at Carnegie Mellon University, said the past decade of self-driving car development has been like an arms race, and the 2018 fatality was a wakeup call.

“Every company in the space basically got a slap in the face and said ‘Hey, can this happen in our context,'” Rajkumar said. “‘What are we doing to prevent a tragedy like this from happening?'”

Rajkumar said some self-driving car companies have misrepresented how long it will take to perfect the technology.

“Self-driving is not a simple activity, it’s quite complex,” Rajkumar said. “It’s going to take time, many years, so ‘customer beware.'”
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Traffic21 Director Participates in NRC Governing Board Meeting

November 11, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

November 11, 2019

Traffic21 Director, Chris Hendrickson traveled to Washington DC to participate in the National Research Council Governing Board Meeting. Hendrickson, attended the meeting on behalf of the Transportation Research Board Division.

Recap: Traffic21 10-Year Anniversary Symposium

November 8, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

November 7-8, 2019

The Traffic21 Institute celebrated its 10-Year Anniversary with a two-day Symposium at Carnegie Mellon University.  The symposium brought together expert panelists, keynote speakers and participants from industry, academia and government to discuss emerging transportation technology and deployment. Read the full recap >>>

How autonomous systems use AI that learns from the world around it

November 4, 2019
Posted in News

If a mine collapses or an earthquake strands people underground in a subway car, first responders can’t rush into that unknown subterranean environment without potentially endangering themselves.

A rescue team must ensure an area is structurally sound and air is breathable before pushing forward — ­­which sometimes means help moves slower than anyone would like.

In a competition sponsored by DARPA, teams are designing autonomous robots that can explore and map these potentially dangerous underground landscapes and also identify objects of interest to first responders like survivors, backpacks, cell phones or fire extinguishers.

“With a robot, you’re able to take much more risk and potentially move much faster in a rescue,” said Sebastian Scherer, Carnegie Mellon University associate research professor and co-leader of Team Explorer, which took first place in the initial leg of that Subterranean Challenge using Microsoft’s AirSim technology to train its robots to recognize objects in a simulated mine.
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Roads Australia Publishes Policy Update on 2019 Future Transport – Smart Cities Study Visit

November 1, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

November 1, 2019

Roads Australia visited North America, including visits to the Mobility21 UTC at Carnegie Mellon University, Washington, Detroit and San Francisco to explore the future of transportation in smart cities.  Based on their findings from their tour, they published a report of their findings – Read the full report here.

Mobility21 Executive Director Presented at Administrative Judges Committee

November 1, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

November 1, 2019

Mobility21 Executive Director, Stan Caldwell, presented on a panel at the 14th Meeting of the American College of Business Court Judges in Pittsburgh. The panel was titled “The Law, Economics, and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Driverless Cars and Other Advanced Technologies.”

 

TOP 100 SMART CITY PARTNERS – THE NEWSWEEK MOMENTUM AWARDS

October 30, 2019
Posted in News

Cities are architectural triumphs where the vibrancy of life sparks daily. They are pillars of human achievement, and bulwarks to the chaotic natural world. Though too like the natural world, they are places of hardship and inequality. But for the first time, with the advent of incredible new technologies, our cities are becoming unspeakably “smart,” where digital intellect crossed with human compassion helps actualize the world we care to dream. We’re seeing the upswing of momentum; of technology, mobility, and design.

These are the partners taking action, whose initiated projects are enacting real change. Whether it’s integrating sustainable infrastructure, taking savvy approaches to micromobility, or using big data analytics to inform legislative policy for the betterment of all, each partner is doing something bold and unique that is leading us into the land unknown.

As part of the 2019 Momentum Awards, Newsweek is proud to present the Top 100 Smart City Partners.
Including CMU’s Metro21: Smart Cities Institute
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Surtrac allows traffic to move at the speed of technology

October 30, 2019
Posted in News

Artificial intelligence is giving more Pittsburgh drivers the green light.

Developing and deploying the technology to keep the traffic flowing took a team of researchers and roboticists from Carnegie Mellon University together with the help of city engineers and funding from foundations.

It all started because Henry Hillman, the late Pittsburgh business leader and philanthropist, was frustrated with traffic signals that wouldn’t turn despite a lack of traffic. In 2009, he reached out to then-CMU president Jerry L. Cohon, to promote the idea that Pittsburgh could be used as a test bed for transportation systems. Not only could it help make traffic move more smoothly, but technology could be developed and spun off, thereby creating more jobs in Pittsburgh.

Their conversation became the impetus for CMU’s Traffic21 Institute, a multidisciplinary research institute with the goal to design, test, deploy and evaluate information and communications-technology-based solutions to address transportation problems. The center is directed from CMU’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.
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‘Look Who’s Driving’ to examine self-driving car technologies, safety concerns

October 24, 2019
Posted in News

“We had a panel last Friday at Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, and one thing that impressed me was how careful the panelists are being,” said Chris Schmidt, co-executive producer of NOVA…

‘Look Who’s Driving’ examines machine learning
“Driving is the most complex activity that adults on the planet regularly engage with,” said Raj Rajkumar, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). “That’s a high bar for technology to overcome.”…

“The fact that so much money is flowing into this technology reflects the optimism of the researchers, who are knocking down problems one by one,” said Schmidt. “While Level 5 autonomy won’t be anytime soon, as Martial Hebert [dean of CMU’s School of Computer Science] notes, it’s a question of when and where it will be deployed.”

Look Who’s Driving airs at 9:00 p.m. tonight on PBS.
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Raj Rajkumar Featured on NOVA’s Episode on Self-Driving Cars: “Look Who’s Driving”

October 23, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

October 23, 2019

NOVA is the most-watched prime time science series on American television, reaching an average of five million viewers weekly and on 10/23/2019, it featured Mobility21’s Director, Raj Rajkumar. The episode has a look at self-driving cars taking to the streets, investigates how they work, and if they are safe. Watch the full episode here.

 

Ansys adds partners to work toward electric planes

October 16, 2019
Posted in News

Venkat Viswanathan, an associate professor in the mechanical engineering department at Carnegie Mellon University, said the potential benefits of electric flights are wide-ranging — from more environmentally friendly flights to more regional flights to creating new markets for local travel and even using the technology to eventually improve people’s commute to the airport.

“It’s almost like going backward in time where we’re bringing back sort of the joy of air travel. That’s the promise of electrifying regional air travel,” he said, referring to ideas that might open up new travel options.

Before the market gets there though, he continued, a lot has to change.

On the technology side, companies would need lighter batteries, better charging structures, battery packs with longer lives, among other things.

“A lot of people are trying to assess where things will go,” Mr. Viswanathan said. “There’s a lot of questions but there’s an undeniable opportunity around electrification of aviation.”
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Think California’s Preemptive Blackouts Are Scary? Buckle Up

October 16, 2019
Posted in News

At midnight on Wednesday, California’s largest utility begun cutting off power to customers across the northern part of the state…

“It’s long past time for us to get serious about reducing the impact of our infrastructure on climate change, and also getting ready for the impacts of climate change on our infrastructure,” Costa Samaras, the director of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation, told Earther. “In the power sector, that means big energy efficiency and deep building retrofit efforts, local distributed solar and storage, and transmission lines that aren’t as big of a fire risk and can handle extreme heat days. There are always questions of ‘how will we pay for it,’ but there is also a very large costs associated with doing nothing, which it looks like the Bay Area is paying now.”
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Experts laugh at Elon Musk’s claim that he is close to perfecting driverless car technology after Tesla owners who used ‘summon’ function continue to share videos and photos of their smashed vehicles

October 7, 2019
Posted in News

Elon Musk has been ridiculed for claiming he’s on the brink of perfecting a fleet of self-driving taxis after Tesla owners reported that their cars crash on summon mode.

The CEO of Tesla says that the fleet will be ready by the end of next year, but that has been called into question after the release of Tesla’s Smart Summon technology.

Raj Rajkumar, from Carnegie Mellon University, says that the California company’s new feature is ‘far from perfection’ and he can ‘only laugh’ at Musk’s timeline.

Many Tesla owners using the summon function, which calls their car to them without anyone in, have experienced several close calls and nasty fender benders.
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Steering away from one-person car commutes: Officials seek to change Pittsburgh’s transportation habits

October 7, 2019
Posted in News

The city also is in the process of designing ways to move traffic more efficiently.

East Liberty already has some smart traffic signals, which change according to motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic at intersections. The Surtrac system that controls the lights was developed at Carnegie Mellon University. The city expects to install similar controls at about 150 intersections beginning next year.

In addition, a $10.9 million federal grant is helping the city develop a series of “smart spines” to move traffic in six busy corridors that empty Downtown.

The spines would be on Penn, Liberty, Fifth, Forbes and Second avenues and Bigelow Boulevard. They would feed traffic, vehicular and social media information into the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center led by Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and operated by the University of Pittsburgh.

Ms. Ricks stressed that the spines — which are in design and should begin to roll out next year — aren’t aimed only at motor vehicles.
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