When Planning Smart Cities, Don’t Forget About Accessibility in Mobility

February 24, 2021
Posted in News

There are many successful use cases where smart cities are implementing mobility projects, using machine learning and AI to analyze data patterns and improve life for their residents. For example, in 2012, Pittsburgh’s city implemented Surtrac, an intelligent traffic signaling system, reducing travel times and emissions by optimizing vehicles’ movement through intersections. Analysis of the project found that the average travel times reduced by 25%, and cars spent up to 40% less time idling. This affected not only citizens’ quality of life but also the environment by reducing emissions.

This is just one example of how a smart city benefits its citizens. Still, smart cities are not just about how the city’s government officials can provide the infrastructure, services, and solutions to benefit its citizens. If that were the core point, it would simply be a digital city, not necessarily smart. A smart city’s very essence depends on its people to improve its services with gathered data, making it more efficient, more inclusive, and more secure.
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5th Annual Smart Cities Virtual Symposium Features Metro21’s Karen Lightman as Panelist

February 23, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

February 23, 2021

Metro21 Executive Director Karen Lightman was a featured panelist, along with other experts in the field of smart technologies, at the 5th Annual Smart Cities Virtual Symposium, where she discussed the topic, “Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World.”

 

The Auto Industry Bets Its Future on Batteries

February 19, 2021
Posted in News

Carmakers are engaged in an intense race to acquire the chemical recipe that will deliver the most energy at the lowest price and in the smallest package. G.M.’s announcement last month that it would go all electric by 2035 was widely considered a landmark moment by policymakers and environmentalists. But to many people in the battery industry, the company was stating the obvious.

“This was the last in a wave of big announcements that very clearly signaled that electric vehicles are here,” said Venkat Viswanathan, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University who researches battery technology.

Battery manufacturing is dominated by companies like Tesla, Panasonic, LG Chem, BYD China and SK Innovation — nearly all of them based in China, Japan or South Korea. But many new players are getting into the game, and investors, sensing the vast profits at stake, are hurling money at start-ups that they believe are close to breakthroughs.
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Biden’s push for electric vehicles puts US in international race to electrify

February 17, 2021
Posted in News

The stakes of the electric vehicle race are about more than economic opportunity and bragging rights.Transportation makes up roughly a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions around the globe, mostly through burning fuel, and experts say to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, it will be critical for as many countries as possible to transition to zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy.

“Transportation is now the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, and over the last 10 years the grid has gotten a lot cleaner, there’s been a lot more renewables added to the grid. And so the grid has gotten about 33% cleaner over the last 10 years, while gasoline has remained the same old dirty gasoline,” said Constantine Samaras, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
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Argo AI and Rapid Flow Technologies partner to integrate tech to make driving more efficient

February 16, 2021
Posted in News

Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle company Argo AI and Pittsburgh-based software company Rapid Flow Technologies partnered for a pilot project to integrate their technologies.

Rapid Flow Technologies, a Carnegie Mellon University spinout, created an edge computing software called Surtrac. The platform uses video detectors at roadway intersections to collect data, such as the number of vehicles, pedestrians and other road users approaching a traffic light…

“What we are trying to do with Argo is augment that information with actual route information,” Schultz said. “If a vehicle can tell us its route through the next three intersections, then our software has more certain information and can make better optimization decisions.”

The two companies conducted the pilot over several weeks in 2020 with 15 of Argo AI’s self-driving test vehicles…

“The system achieved a 40% reduction in delay, or time wasted sitting at red lights, demonstrating that with self-driving vehicles on roadways sharing information with smart infrastructure, cities can improve traffic flow and cut congestion even further,” Browning wrote in the post.
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Traffic21 Director Chris Hendrickson Provides Insights for GAO Report

February 16, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

February 16, 2021

The US Government Accountability Office recently released their report “Ensuring a Skilled Workforce in the USDOT“, which includes insights from Traffic21 Director Chris Hendrickson.  The report highlights steps that should be taken to ensure the workforce has the skills necessary to oversee safety.

Mobility21 Research Project “Integration of Automated Vehicle Sensing with Adaptive Signal Control for Enhanced Mobility” Highlighted in TRB E-Newsletter

February 16, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

February 16, 2021

Mobility21 UTC researcher Stephen Smith’s research project, “Integration of Autonomous Vehicles with Adaptive Signal Control to Enhance Mobility was highlighted in this week’s Transportation Research Board’s newsletter in the University Research News section.  Read the newsletter here.

ITS America Emerging Technologies Standing Committee Welcomes Mobility21 Executive Director as Chair

February 9, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

February 9, 2021

Stan Caldwell has been appointed chair of the Emerging Technologies Standing Committee of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and was joined by Vice Chair Andrew Liu from AECOM in hosting the inaugural committee meeting.  Committee members will participate in task forces for program and policy development of emerging ITS technologies.

Electric Cars Are Coming, and Fast. Is the Nation’s Grid Up to It?

February 5, 2021
Posted in News

Electric vehicles would be even cleaner if utilities switched away from coal and natural gas and leaned more heavily on low-emissions sources like solar, wind or nuclear power.

That combination could have a powerful impact: One recent study by Carnegie Mellon University found that if America’s grid was close to emissions-free, and if about 84 percent of all vehicle travel was electrified, transportation emissions from light-duty vehicles would fall by 90 percent. (The decline in emissions could be even faster and larger, the study found, if policymakers took actions to reduce reliance on driving, such as expanding public transit or encouraging biking and walking.)

“The grid is getting cleaner over time, but it’s still not at zero emissions,” said Constantine Samaras, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and a co-author of the paper. “If we want to fully decarbonize transportation, we need to do everything, and do it at full speed: fewer vehicle miles traveled, electrify nearly the entire passenger fleet, and clean up power plants.”
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Biden Wants the Government to Run on EVs. It Won’t Be Easy

February 5, 2021
Posted in News

Moreover, the government turns over its fleet slowly; today, the average government-owned vehicle is almost 15 years old. Aging gas-powered vehicles out of that fleet will take some time.

Which is convenient, because automakers will need time to cook up the government’s order. Three automakers—Tesla, General Motors, and Ford—make electric vehicles in the US. But none complies with the government’s new “Buy American” and unionized labor provisions.

Still, government contracts could give US car companies the certainty they need to ramp up their electric vehicle efforts. “Governments have a lot of purchasing power, and they often lead with innovation to pull along market demand,” says Costa Samaras, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who studies electric vehicle policy at Carnegie Mellon University. To wit: All told, the feds spent $4.37 billion buying, fueling, and maintaining vehicles in 2019. “This is the lowest of the low-hanging electric vehicle fruit,” he says.
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New PennDOT Law Allows Use of Bioptic Telescope Lenses to Obtain License

February 4, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

February 4, 2021

New Pennsylvania law, ACT 131, will allow people to use bioptic telescope lenses when testing for a driver’s license starting later in 2021.  Mobility21 UTC project, Smart Glasses for Improving Mobility of Low Vision People, led by researcher Yang Cai, helped inform this new policy.

 

 

 

 

Hang on to Your Car for Now – Then Buy an EV

January 29, 2021
Posted in News

As early as 2023, experts expect, the cost of building an electric car will be on par with the cost of making a similar gas-powered model.

The reason is the rapidly falling cost of producing the battery packs for electric cars. The way the industry measures this is the price per kilowatt hour (kWh). In 2010, the cost for a battery pack was more than $1,000/kWh, according to Bloomberg BNEF. In 2020 it reached $126. When that price falls to $100 it is expected the cost to build an electric car will be no more than the cost to roll a similar gasoline-powered car off the assembly line. That is expected to happen as early as 2023.

Moreover, an analysis by engineers at Carnegie Mellon University anticipates that by 2025 a battery pack price of around $80/kWh will result in EV sticker prices being lower than similar conventional cars.
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Philly transportation needs a universal way to measure racial equity | Opinion

January 27, 2021
Posted in News

In Philadelphia, the city and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) consider equity in their transportation plans, but they lack a standard method to analyze results and sufficient coordination between entities, resulting in a fractured approach. To remedy this, the city needs a universal transportation equity measure that can be used across transportation projects. Having a universal measure can not only help to better identify vulnerable communities but establish the foundation for a coordinated citywide process for considering equity in city transportation projects…

The city of Philadelphia does not need to start from scratch. We can emulate the success of cities like Seattle, where Sound Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation rely on a coordinated set of questions from the city’s Racial Equity Toolkit to guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of transportation projects.

The Philadelphia region’s metropolitan planning organization, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), also has created an equity analysis tool for the region called the Indicators of Potential Disadvantage (IPD).
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Uber is bringing its EV and public transit features to more cities

January 20, 2021
Posted in News

Uber Green, the feature that allows customers to request rides in electric vehicles, is coming to more cities. After initially launching in 15 cities last September, the ride-hail company is bringing the feature to 1,400 additional cities and towns in North America. The new markets include Austin, Calgary, Houston, Miami, New York City, Tucson, Winnipeg, Washington, DC, and hundreds more.

Uber claims that “100 percent” of rides on its platform will take place in electric vehicles by 2030 in the US, Canada, and Europe, and by 2040 for the rest of the world. But rather than pay drivers directly to trade their gas-burning vehicles for electric ones, the company will impose an extra fee on trips completed in an electric vehicle to incentivize drivers to make the switch…

Uber has been linked to rising car congestion and increased pollution in cities. A new study from Carnegie Mellon found that the benefit from people ditching their cars to use ride-hailing services is negated by new vehicles added to the road by aspiring Uber and Lyft drivers.
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CMU team to examine autonomous vehicles for people with disabilities

January 18, 2021
Posted in News

John Tague, chairman of the Pennsylvania Transportation Alliance, uses a wheelchair and understands the daily mobility challenges faced by people with disabilities.

That’s why Mr. Tague is excited that a team from Carnegie Mellon University has received a grant to develop a prototype system for autonomous vehicles that will allow anyone to control most vehicle functions — from summoning the vehicle to their location to controlling the windows and the temperature of the air conditioning — from their cellphones.

The team, based in CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, was among 10 across the country that received $300,000 grants last week from the federal Department of Transportation to continue developing their ideas to make autonomous vehicles more practical for people with disabilities.

The grant is part the DOT’s Inclusive Design Challenge, a competitive program to improve mobility for people with disabilities. Three finalists will split $2 million to produce their product.
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When Uber and Lyft enter cities, vehicle ownership increases

January 13, 2021
Posted in News

When ridesourcing companies Uber and Lyft show up in urban areas, vehicle registrations per capita increase by 0.7% on average, increasing even more in car-dependent cities. Researchers reporting in the journal iScience on January 6 made this discovery by analyzing data from major US cities between 2011 to 2017, comparing trends in cities where Uber and Lyft entered with those where they didn’t. They also found that Uber and Lyft displace transit more in cities with higher income and fewer children.

“I would have expected people to own fewer vehicles once they gain access to this alternative transportation mode,” says Jeremy Michalek, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and co-author on the study. “But that’s not what we see in the data. One possible explanation could be that there’s an effect on the other side, where somebody who was on the verge of being able to afford a vehicle now has an incentive to buy one and earn some money with it. So vehicle adoption by Uber and Lyft drivers may outweigh the effect of riders getting rid of their personal vehicles.”
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How Much Will Electric Cars Cost In 2025

January 13, 2021
Posted in News

A recently released auto industry report by the Economist publication has shown that consumers will pay far less to purchase an electric car by 2025…

According to the Open Grid Scheduler, prices of electric vehicles will soon rival the regular vehicle prices. All this should happen once the battery prices fall below $100 per kilowatt-hour.

When will the change happen? According to researchers based at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, electric car battery prices will probably fall to the desired range (under $100 per kilowatt-hour) by 2023, 2024, or 2025.

Many auto industry gurus are convinced that it will happen by 2025. The Carnegie Mellon University team, led by Venkat Viswanathan, first developed a model used to calculate EV battery costs. The model breaks down the individual component costs and subsequently predicts the changes over time.
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Opinion: Electric vehicles aren’t going to take over any time soon

January 13, 2021
Posted in News

It’s meaningless to have the right investment thesis if your timing is bad. No one learned this lesson more in 2020 than all the sad sacks who shorted Tesla…

“There are two bottlenecks that limit their practicality,” says Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who is leading a team of battery researchers. “We cannot recharge them well enough today, and the other one is that we cannot get all of the capacity, we cannot get a large amount of the energy out.”

Sadly, there’s no battery equivalent of Moore’s Law, the 1965 observation of Intel INTC, +2.13% co-founder Gordon Moore that processing power in an integrated circuit doubles every two years. Making batteries more efficient, powerful and longer-lasting is the holy grail of the electric vehicle industry, yet for all the progress that has been made, Viswanathan talks of major breakthroughs “in maybe five to 10 years.”
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The pandemic cost public transit dearly. Will Pittsburgh-area riders return in 2021?

January 13, 2021
Posted in News

Stan Caldwell, executive director of the Traffic21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, noted that many people still don’t feel safe enough to use transit.

“In my opinion, both locally and nationally, it’s a clear reluctance for people to be in close proximity to other people in an enclosed environment,” Caldwell said. “So we are seeing people taking other modes of transportation, and we are seeing vehicle miles traveled going back up to pre-pandemic levels here in the state of Pennsylvania and nationally.”…

As COVID-19 cases rose, Pennsylvania again mandated telework, unless impossible. And it’s not hard to imagine some companies will use more telework even after the pandemic.

“There was a lot of fear of loss of productivity if that would happen, but I think companies have seen the opposite, have seen increased productivity. So yes, that’s a big concern,” Caldwell said. “And if a system has been reliant on the revenues of that, it changes their revenue models significantly.”
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USDOT awards US$49.6m in grants for 10 ITS projects across the USA

January 11, 2021
Posted in News

ATCMTD was established under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

FY 2020 ATCMTD Projects

City of Dallas
S.M. Wright Smart Corridor
$4,000,000

Georgia Department of Transportation
Emergency Vehicle Preemption Using Connected Vehicle Technology
$3,206,809

Maine Department of Transportation
Maine Advanced Signal Control and Connected Vehicle System for Safe, Efficient and Equitable Rural Transportation (MAST) Project
$3,471,615

Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee (Public Works Department)
Charlotte Avenue/Dr. Martin L King, Jr Blvd Transit Headways and Congestion Management
$1,500,000

Pinellas County Department of Public Works
Pinellas Connected Community
$4,622,880

Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC)
Integrated Safety Technology Corridor
$6,000,000

San Diego Association of Governments
Advancing Connectivity and the Economy Through Technology in the San Diego Region
$9,298,300

University of Michigan Smart Intersections: Paving the Way for a National CAV Deployment
$9,950,098

Virginia Port Authority
Autonomous Truck Ready
$2,102,500

Utah Department of Transportation
Utah Broadly Connected
$5,450,000
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Carnegie Mellon University’s Mobility21 UTC Honors “Student of the Year” at 30th Annual Awards Ceremony

January 6, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

January 6, 2021

Camille Boggan was honored tonight as Mobility21 University Transportation Center’s “Student of the Year” at the Council of University Transportation Center’s annual awards banquet.

Annually, the United States Department of Transportation honors the most outstanding student from each participating University Transportation Center for his/her achievements and promise for future contributions to the transportation field. Students of the year are selected based on their accomplishments in such areas as technical merit and research, academic performance, professionalism, and leadership.  Read about all the Students of the Year in the annual booklet.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 Institute houses Mobility21, the National University Transportation Center for Improving Mobility. Students from CMU, University of Pennsylvania, The Ohio State University, or Community College of Allegheny County were eligible for the Mobility21 UTC nomination.

Meet our winner:

Mobility21, the National University Transportation Center for Improving Mobility Student of the Year.

Photo of Camille Boggan

Camille Boggan is a current city planning graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Miami University (Ohio) in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Camille has worked as a graduate research assistant in Dr. Megan Ryerson’s Smart Mobility Lab, supporting research efforts on transportation safety and wayfinding. In 2020 she interned with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and has served on the transit steering committee of 5th Square, Philadelphia’s urban activist PAC, since 2019.

In 2019 Camille was part of the winning team of ITS America’s Emerging Leaders Program Global Challenge. Her team developed a transportation pricing model for Philadelphia to reduce congestion and direct funds to public transportation services. She was also recently awarded a graduate scholarship from the WTS Philadelphia chapter.

Educating, recruiting and training new workers is critical to managing our country’s infrastructure safely and efficiently. We strive to help develop a transportation workforce capable of designing and maintaining the complex transportation systems of tomorrow. Help us congratulate our 2021 UTC Student of the Year!

To learn more about the University Transportation Centers’ Student of the Year awards please click here.

Council of University Transportation Centers Holds Annual Winter Meeting

January 6, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

January 5-6, 2021

The Council of University Transportation Centers held their winter meeting, followed by the Annual Awards Banquet.  The Council of University Transportation Center‘s  winter meeting brings together the nation’s leading transportation professionals from academia and industry along with U.S. DOT and other transportation agency officials.  Raj Rajkumar, Director, Stan Caldwell, Executive Director and Lisa Kay Schweyer, Program Manager of Mobility21 participated in the meeting.  View the awards program here.

US Government Accountability Office (GAO) Releases Report on Automated Technologies

December 18, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

December 18, 2020

The UTC program has been referenced in the recently released US General Accountability Office (GAO) report on “AUTOMATED TECHNOLOGIES: DOT Should Take Steps to Ensure Its Workforce Has Skills Needed to Oversee Safety.”  Mobility21 UTC Director Raj Rajkumar was part of the Carnegie Mellon University team interviewed and acknowledged as Selected Transportation Stakeholder Interviewed.  Read the full report here.

Survey of Brick Roads Led by CMU

December 18, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

December 18, 2020

Mobility21 UTC research assistant Erick Shiring participated in a graduate Capstone course and recent study of Mt. Lebanon’s brick roads. They presented their results to the Mt. Lebanon Board of Commissioners.  This study was led by Anna Siefken of the Scott Institute, along with graduate students Yunxi “Luna” Hu, Rachel Bukowitz, and Shunyu “Charlotte” Rao, who participate in the Heinz College Systems Synthesis program .  Read the article here.

QuantumScape EV Batteries Can Be Charged Super Fast. Why That Matters.

December 14, 2020
Posted in News

Electric-vehicle-battery start-up QuantumScape can get its lithium metal solid-state batteries to 80% full in 15 minutes without compromising battery life or safety.

That’s big. If QuantumScape’s (ticker: QS) technology scales up, it means a typical EV with some charge left—and with 200 or 300 miles of designed per charge range—could pick up about 200 miles of driving range in less than 15 minutes. That should be fast enough to alleviate much of the range anxiety consumers sometimes feel when thinking about purchasing a battery powered car…

“These results blow away what was previously thought to be possible in a solid-state battery,” Venkat Viswanathan, battery expert and professor of materials science at Carnegie Mellon University, said in the news release. “This data shows the capability to charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes, corresponding to an astonishingly high rate of lithium deposition of up to a micron per minute.”
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